Streams and Drainage

Geometry and Dynamics of Stream Channels
Changes Downstream
Channel Patterns
Erosion by Streams
Stream Deposits

adapted to HTML from lecture notes of Prof. Stephen A. Nelson Tulane University



A stream is a body of water that carries rock particles and dissolved ions and flows down slope along a clearly defined path, called a channel. Thus streams may vary in width from a few centimeters to several kilometers. Streams are important for several reasons:

  • Streams carry most of the water that goes from the land to the sea, and thus are an important part of the water cycle.

  • Streams carry billions of tons of sediment to lower elevations, and thus are one of the main transporting mediums in the production of sedimentary rocks.

  • Streams carry dissolved ions, the products of chemical weathering, into the oceans and thus make the sea salty.

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