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The 3 courses of a

river !!!
Objectives: To revise the three courses of a river.
Revise the features in the courses of a river.

This PowerPoint will include information on the 3

courses of a river and the features in the 3 courses
of a river

The upper course of a
The upper course is found in the mountains and hills where the
river rises from its source in the mountains were the rivers starts
off in streams the ground is like a sponge . Often waterfalls and
rapids are also found in this course. The river is usually fast flowing
in the upper course. There are lots of stones and boulders for the
water to flow over. The river starts as a stream in the upper course
and flows through V-Shaped valleys.
Water flows over hard rock. When it reaches the soft rock, the
water starts to erode or wear away the soft rock. Over
thousands of years, the soft rock is eroded and the river begins
to cut down vertically into the rock. This makes a cliff over
which the water can topple. Over time, the cliff becomes
steeper and deeper and a waterfall is formed. At the bottom of
the waterfall a plunge pool is created. Some of the water
splashes onto the cliff and makes a large, hollow plunge pool by
The middle course of a river
The middle course is where the river starts to
become wider and deeper because loads of
small streams which are formed in the upper
course of the river form into one. The land
which the river flows over becomes flatter. The
river starts to meander or bend in the middle
course which can also form some oxbow lakes.

Oxbow lakes

Oxbow lakes are formed when a bend in a river

is cut off from the main channel by the forces of
erosion. An oxbow lake will slowly be created as
soil erodes and re-deposits, changing the river's
original course.


Meanders are formed by erosion and occur

where a river has worn away its banks. Most
erosion normally occurs on the outside bend of
a meander. This is because the velocity (speed)
of the river is faster. As well as the water hitting
the banks, pieces of sediment may also be
thrown against the river banks wearing them
away. On the inside bend of a meander, the
water flows more slowly. There is normally
The lower course of a river
In the lower course, the river has a
high volume and a large discharge.
The river channel is now deep and
wide and the landscape around it is
flat. However, as a river reaches the
end of its journey, energy levels are
low and deposition takes place.
The river now has a wide floodplain. A
floodplain is the area around a river
that is covered in times of flood. A
floodplain is a very fertile area due to
the rich alluvium deposited by
floodwaters. This makes floodplains a
good place for agriculture. A build up
of alluvium on the banks of a river
can create levees which raise the
river bank.
Deltas are found at the mouth of
large rivers - for example, the