Explain how braided rivers and meandering rivers are formed


Note: Please refer to the GETTING STARTED module to learn how to maneuver through, and how to answer the lab questions, in the Google Earth () component.


You should know and understand the following terms:

Alluvial fanDrainage divideOxbow Lake
BasinDrainage patternSinuosity
Braided streamsEntrenched meanderStream discharge
CutbanksHydrographStream order
DeltaMeandering riverWatershed
Drainage densityMeander scar


After successfully completing this module, you should be able to do the following tasks:

·         Describe the concepts of sub-basins and watersheds

·         Identify different human water uses of a river

·         Construct a stream order for a river system

·         Compute drainage density of a given basin

·         Identify drainage patterns of river networks

·         Explain how braided rivers and meandering rivers are formed

·         Identify the physical features common to a meandering river system

·         Describe the physical conditions necessary to form alluvial fans


This module examines fluvial processes and landscapes. Topics include watersheds, drainage patterns and densities, stream order, meandering and braided streams, and alluvial fans. While these topics may appear to be disparate, you will learn how they are inherently related. The modules start with four opening topics, or vignettes, which are found in the accompanying Google Earth file. These vignettes introduce basic concepts of fluvial processes and landscapes. Some of the vignettes have animations, videos, or short articles that will provide another perspective or visual explanation for the topic at hand. After reading the vignette and associated links, answer the following questions. Please note that some links might take a while to download based on your Internet speed.