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Created with Fabric.js 1.4.5 3 Stages of the river Upper Course As the river moves through the upper course it cuts downwards. The gradient here is steep and the river channel is narrow. Vertical erosion in this highland part of the river helps to create steep-sided V-shaped valleys, interlocking spurs, rapids, waterfalls and gorges. As the river erodes the landscape in the upper course, it winds and bends to avoid areas of hard rock. This creates interlocking spurs, which look a bit like the interlocking parts of a zip. When a river runs over alternating layers of hard and soft rock, rapids and waterfalls may form. Middle Course In the middle course the river has more energy and a high volume of water. The gradient here is gentle and lateral (sideways) erosion has widened the river channel. The river channel has also deepened. A larger river channel means there is less friction, so the water flows faster:As the river erodes laterally, to the right side then the left side, it forms large bends, and then horseshoe-like loops called meanders. The formation of meanders is due to both deposition and erosion and meanders gradually migrate downstream. The force of the water erodes and undercuts the river bank on the outside of the bend where water flow has most energy due to decreased friction. tap and hold to changethis text! On the inside of the bend, where the river flow is slower, material is deposited, as there is more friction.Over time the horseshoe become tighter, until the ends become very close together. As the river breaks through, eg during a flood when the river has a higher discharge and more energy, and the ends join, the loop is cut-off from the main channel. The cut-off loop is called an oxbow lake.
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