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Rivers and their Formation

Nature volume 140, pages 496497 (18 September 1937) | Download Citation



IN connexion with the recent British Association meeting at Nottingham, a public lecture on "Rivers", which was abundantly illustrated, was delivered by Mr. R. Kay Gresswell in Lincoln on September 3. Mr. Gresswell pointed out that when a river has once been formed, by virtue of its motion the water is able to carry a load consisting of rock actually dissolved in the water and also of finely powdered rock and pebbles of all sizes, which serve as eroding agents. When it has acquired a load, the river can use it as a kind of file or battering-ram with which to erode its banks and bed and so add to the quantity it is transporting until it becomes fully laden. The main features of a river are the direct result of the water constantly trying to adjust its bed to suit its load. If the river enters a reach fully laden and the slope is such that the water continues to flow at its original speed, then just as much material will leave that reach as enters it and so no erosion takes place. Should, however, a fully laden river enter a reach the slope of which is less steep than it has been upstream, the rate of flow of the water will be decreased and a proportion of the load is then deposited. This mostly occurs at the beginning of the reach and thus the river gradually steepens the slope until it becomes sufficient for the entering load to be carried through.

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