River delta
Overview
 
A delta is a landform that is formed at the mouth of a river
River
A river is a natural watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, a lake, a sea, or another river. In a few cases, a river simply flows into the ground or dries up completely before reaching another body of water. Small rivers may also be called by several other names, including...

 where that river flows into an ocean, sea, estuary
Estuary
An estuary is a partly enclosed coastal body of water with one or more rivers or streams flowing into it, and with a free connection to the open sea....

, lake, reservoir
Reservoir
A reservoir , artificial lake or dam is used to store water.Reservoirs may be created in river valleys by the construction of a dam or may be built by excavation in the ground or by conventional construction techniques such as brickwork or cast concrete.The term reservoir may also be used to...

, flat arid area, or another river. Deltas are formed from the deposition
Deposition (geology)
Deposition is the geological process by which material is added to a landform or land mass. Fluids such as wind and water, as well as sediment flowing via gravity, transport previously eroded sediment, which, at the loss of enough kinetic energy in the fluid, is deposited, building up layers of...

 of the sediment
Sediment
Sediment is naturally occurring material that is broken down by processes of weathering and erosion, and is subsequently transported by the action of fluids such as wind, water, or ice, and/or by the force of gravity acting on the particle itself....

 carried by the river as the flow leaves the mouth of the river. Over long periods of time, this deposition builds the characteristic geographic pattern of a river delta.

Contrary to popular belief, the term delta was not coined by Herodotus
Herodotus
Herodotus was an ancient Greek historian who was born in Halicarnassus, Caria and lived in the 5th century BC . He has been called the "Father of History", and was the first historian known to collect his materials systematically, test their accuracy to a certain extent and arrange them in a...

.

River deltas form when a river carrying sediment reaches a body of standing water,such as a lake, ocean, or reservoir.
Encyclopedia
A delta is a landform that is formed at the mouth of a river
River
A river is a natural watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, a lake, a sea, or another river. In a few cases, a river simply flows into the ground or dries up completely before reaching another body of water. Small rivers may also be called by several other names, including...

 where that river flows into an ocean, sea, estuary
Estuary
An estuary is a partly enclosed coastal body of water with one or more rivers or streams flowing into it, and with a free connection to the open sea....

, lake, reservoir
Reservoir
A reservoir , artificial lake or dam is used to store water.Reservoirs may be created in river valleys by the construction of a dam or may be built by excavation in the ground or by conventional construction techniques such as brickwork or cast concrete.The term reservoir may also be used to...

, flat arid area, or another river. Deltas are formed from the deposition
Deposition (geology)
Deposition is the geological process by which material is added to a landform or land mass. Fluids such as wind and water, as well as sediment flowing via gravity, transport previously eroded sediment, which, at the loss of enough kinetic energy in the fluid, is deposited, building up layers of...

 of the sediment
Sediment
Sediment is naturally occurring material that is broken down by processes of weathering and erosion, and is subsequently transported by the action of fluids such as wind, water, or ice, and/or by the force of gravity acting on the particle itself....

 carried by the river as the flow leaves the mouth of the river. Over long periods of time, this deposition builds the characteristic geographic pattern of a river delta.

Contrary to popular belief, the term delta was not coined by Herodotus
Herodotus
Herodotus was an ancient Greek historian who was born in Halicarnassus, Caria and lived in the 5th century BC . He has been called the "Father of History", and was the first historian known to collect his materials systematically, test their accuracy to a certain extent and arrange them in a...

.

Formation

River deltas form when a river carrying sediment reaches a body of standing water,such as a lake, ocean, or reservoir. When the flow enters the standing water, it is no longer confined to its channel
Stream channel
Stream channel is the physical confine of a stream consisting of a bed and stream banks.Stream channels exist in a variety of geometries. The stream channel development is controlled by both water and sediment movement. There is a difference between low gradient streams and high gradient streams...

 and expands in width. This flow expansion results in a decrease in the flow velocity, which diminishes the ability of the flow to transport sediment
Sediment transport
Sediment transport is the movement of solid particles , typically due to a combination of the force of gravity acting on the sediment, and/or the movement of the fluid in which the sediment is entrained...

. As a result, sediment drops out of the flow and deposits
Deposition (geology)
Deposition is the geological process by which material is added to a landform or land mass. Fluids such as wind and water, as well as sediment flowing via gravity, transport previously eroded sediment, which, at the loss of enough kinetic energy in the fluid, is deposited, building up layers of...

. Over time, this single channel will build a deltaic lobe (such as the bird's-foot of the Mississippi or Ural River deltas), pushing its mouth further into the standing water. As the deltaic lobe advances, the gradient
Gradient
In vector calculus, the gradient of a scalar field is a vector field that points in the direction of the greatest rate of increase of the scalar field, and whose magnitude is the greatest rate of change....

 of the river channel becomes lower because the river channel is longer but has the same change in elevation (see slope
Slope
In mathematics, the slope or gradient of a line describes its steepness, incline, or grade. A higher slope value indicates a steeper incline....

). As the slope of the river channel decreases, it becomes unstable for two reasons. First, water under the force of gravity will tend to flow in the most direct course down slope. If the river breaches its natural levees (i.e., during a flood), it will spill out onto a new course with a shorter route to the ocean, thereby obtaining a more stable steeper slope. Second, as its slope gets lower, the amount of sheer stress on the bed will decrease, which will result in deposition of sediment within the channel and a rise in the channel bed relative to the floodplain. This will make it easier for the river to breach its levees and cut a new channel that enters the body of standing water at a steeper slope. Often when the channel does this, some of its flow can remain in the abandoned channel. When these channel switching events occur a mature delta will gain a distributary
Distributary
A distributary, or a distributary channel, is a stream that branches off and flows away from a main stream channel. They are a common feature of river deltas. The phenomenon is known as river bifurcation. The opposite of a distributary is a tributary...

 network.

Another way in which these distributary networks may form is from the deposition of mouth bars (mid-channel sand and/or gravel bars at the mouth of a river). When this mid-channel bar is deposited at the mouth of a river, the flow is routed around it. This results in additional deposition on the upstream end of the mouth-bar, which splits the river into two distributary channels. A good example of the result of this process is the Wax Lake Delta
Wax Lake Delta
Wax Lake was a lake in St. Mary Parish, Louisiana that was converted into an outlet channel to divert water from the Atchafalaya River to the Gulf of Mexico.-Wax Lake outlet:...

 in Louisiana
Louisiana
Louisiana is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America. Its capital is Baton Rouge and largest city is New Orleans. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are local governments equivalent to counties...

.

In both of these cases, depositional processes force redistribution of deposition from areas of high deposition to areas of low deposition. This results in the smoothing of the planform (or map-view) shape of the delta as the channels move across its surface and deposit sediment. Because the sediment is laid down in this fashion, the shape of these deltas approximates a fan. It is closer to an ideal fan the more often the flow changes course because more rapid changes in channel position results in more uniform deposition of sediment on the delta front. The Mississippi and Ural River deltas, with their bird's-feet, are examples of rivers that do not avulse
Avulsion (river)
In sedimentary geology and fluvial geomorphology, avulsion is the rapid abandonment of a river channel and the formation of a new river channel. Avulsions occur as a result of channel slopes that are much lower than the slope that the river could travel if it took a new course.-Deltaic and...

 often enough to form a symmetrical fan shape. Alluvial fan
Alluvial fan
An alluvial fan is a fan-shaped deposit formed where a fast flowing stream flattens, slows, and spreads typically at the exit of a canyon onto a flatter plain. A convergence of neighboring alluvial fans into a single apron of deposits against a slope is called a bajada, or compound alluvial...

 deltas, as seen in their name, avulse frequently and more closely approximate an ideal fan shape.

Types of deltas

Deltas are typically classified according to the main control on deposition, which is usually either a river, waves, or tide
Tide
Tides are the rise and fall of sea levels caused by the combined effects of the gravitational forces exerted by the moon and the sun and the rotation of the Earth....

s. These controls have a large effect on the shape of the resulting delta.

Wave-dominated deltas

In wave dominated deltas, wave erosion controls the shape of the delta, although deposition still outweighs the amount of erosion and the delta is able to advance into the sea. Deltas of this form, such as the Nile Delta
Nile Delta
The Nile Delta is the delta formed in Northern Egypt where the Nile River spreads out and drains into the Mediterranean Sea. It is one of the world's largest river deltas—from Alexandria in the west to Port Said in the east, it covers some 240 km of Mediterranean coastline—and is a rich...

, tend to have a characteristic Greek-capital-delta shape .

Tide-dominated deltas

Erosion is also an important control in tide dominated deltas, such as the Ganges Delta
Ganges Delta
The Ganges Delta is a river delta in the South Asia region of Bengal, consisting of Bangladesh and the state of West Bengal, India. It is the world's largest delta, and empties into the Bay of Bengal...

, which may be mainly submarine, with prominent sand bars and ridges. This tends to produce a "dendritic" structure. Tidal deltas behave differently from river- and wave-dominated deltas, which tend to have a few main distributaries. Once a wave- or river- distributary silts up, it is abandoned, and a new channel forms elsewhere. In a tidal delta, new distributaries are formed during times when there's a lot of water around – such as floods or storm surge
Storm surge
A storm surge is an offshore rise of water associated with a low pressure weather system, typically tropical cyclones and strong extratropical cyclones. Storm surges are caused primarily by high winds pushing on the ocean's surface. The wind causes the water to pile up higher than the ordinary sea...

s. These distributaries slowly silt up at a pretty constant rate until they fizzle out.

Gilbert deltas

A Gilbert delta (named after Grove Karl Gilbert
Grove Karl Gilbert
Grove Karl Gilbert , known by the abbreviated name G. K. Gilbert in academic literature, was an American geologist....

) is a specific type of delta that is formed by coarse sediments, as opposed to gently-sloping muddy deltas such as that of the Mississippi. For example, a mountain river depositing sediment into a freshwater lake would form this kind of delta.
While some authors describe both lacustrine and marine locations of Gilbert deltas, others note that their formation is more characteristic of the freshwater lakes, where it is easier for the river water to mix with the lakewater faster (as opposed to the case of a river falling into the sea or a salt lake, where less dense fresh water brought by the river stays on top longer).

G.K. Gilbert himself first described this type of delta on Lake Bonneville
Lake Bonneville
Lake Bonneville was a prehistoric pluvial lake that covered much of North America's Great Basin region. Most of the territory it covered was in present-day Utah, though parts of the lake extended into present-day Idaho and Nevada. Formed about 32,000 years ago, it existed until about 14,500 years...

 in 1885. Elsewhere, similar structures can be found e.g. at the mouths of several creeks flowing into Okanagan Lake
Okanagan Lake
Okanagan Lake is a large, deep lake in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia. The lake is 135 km long, between 4 and 5 km wide, and has a surface area of 351 km². The lake's maximum depth is 232 meters near Grant Island...

 in British Columbia
British Columbia
British Columbia is the westernmost of Canada's provinces and is known for its natural beauty, as reflected in its Latin motto, Splendor sine occasu . Its name was chosen by Queen Victoria in 1858...

 and forming prominent peninsulas at Naramata
Naramata, British Columbia
-External links:*...

 (49°35′30"N 119°35′30"W), Summerland
Summerland, British Columbia
Summerland is a community on the west side of Okanagan Lake in the interior of British Columbia, Canada. The district is between Peachland to the north and Penticton to the south...

 (49°34′23"N 119°37′45"W), or Peachland
Peachland, British Columbia
Peachland is a district municipality of approximately 5000 residents in the Okanagan Valley, on the west side of Okanagan Lake in British Columbia, Canada. It was founded in 1899 by John Moore Robinson, although the region had long been home to the Okanagan people...

 (49°47′00"N 119°42′45"W)

Estuaries

Other rivers, particularly those located on coasts with significant tidal range
Tidal range
The tidal range is the vertical difference between the high tide and the succeeding low tide. Tides are the rise and fall of sea levels caused by the combined effects of the gravitational forces exerted by the Moon and the Sun and the rotation of the Earth...

, do not form a delta but enter into the sea in the form of an estuary
Estuary
An estuary is a partly enclosed coastal body of water with one or more rivers or streams flowing into it, and with a free connection to the open sea....

. Notable examples include the Saint Lawrence River
Saint Lawrence River
The Saint Lawrence is a large river flowing approximately from southwest to northeast in the middle latitudes of North America, connecting the Great Lakes with the Atlantic Ocean. It is the primary drainage conveyor of the Great Lakes Basin...

 and the Tagus
Tagus
The Tagus is the longest river on the Iberian Peninsula. It is long, in Spain, along the border between Portugal and Spain and in Portugal, where it empties into the Atlantic Ocean at Lisbon. It drains an area of . The Tagus is highly utilized for most of its course...

 estuary.

Inland deltas

In rare cases the river delta is located inside a large valley and is called an inverted river delta
Inverted river delta
An inverted river delta is special category of river delta in which the narrow end of the delta emerges on the seafront and the wide end is located further inland, so that with respect to the seafront, the locations of both ends of the delta are inverted....

. Sometimes a river will divide into multiple branches in an inland area, only to rejoin and continue to the sea; such an area is known as an inland delta, and often occur on former lake beds. The Inner Niger Delta and Peace–Athabasca Delta are notable examples. The Amazon
Amazon River
The Amazon of South America is the second longest river in the world and by far the largest by waterflow with an average discharge greater than the next seven largest rivers combined...

 has also an inland delta before the island of Marajó
Marajó
Marajó is an island located at the mouth of the Amazon River in Brazil. It is part of the state of Pará.- Geography :With a land area of 40,100 km² , which compares to the size of Switzerland, it is the largest island to be completely surrounded by freshwater in the world...

.

In some cases a river flowing into a flat arid area splits into channels which then evaporates as it progresses into the desert. Okavango Delta
Okavango Delta
The Okavango Delta , in Botswana, is the world's largest inland delta. It is formed where the Okavango River empties onto a swamp in an endorheic basin in the Kalahari Desert, where most of the water is lost to evaporation and transpiration instead of draining into the sea...

 in Botswana
Botswana
Botswana, officially the Republic of Botswana , is a landlocked country located in Southern Africa. The citizens are referred to as "Batswana" . Formerly the British protectorate of Bechuanaland, Botswana adopted its new name after becoming independent within the Commonwealth on 30 September 1966...

 is one well-known example.

Sedimentary structure

The formation of a delta consists of three main forms: the topset, foreset/frontset, and bottomset.
  • The bottomset beds are created from the suspended sediment that settles out of the water as the river flows into the body of water and loses energy. The suspended load is carried out the furthest into the body of water than all other types of sediment creating a turbidite
    Turbidite
    Turbidite geological formations have their origins in turbidity current deposits, which are deposits from a form of underwater avalanche that are responsible for distributing vast amounts of clastic sediment into the deep ocean.-The ideal turbidite sequence:...

    . These beds are laid down in horizontal layers and consist of smaller grains.
  • The foreset beds in turn build over the bottomset beds as the main delta form advances. The foreset beds consist of the bed load that the river is moving along which consists of larger sediments that roll along the main channel. When it reaches the edge of the form, the bed load rolls over the edge, and builds up in steeply angled layers over the top of the bottomset beds. The angle of the outermost edge of the delta is created by the sediments angle of repose. As the forsets build outward (which make up the majority of the delta) they pile up and miniature landslides occur. This slope is created in this fashion as the bedload continues to be deposited and the delta moves outward. In cross section, one would see the foresets lying in angled, parallel bands, showing each stage of the creation of the delta.
  • The topset beds in turn overlay the foresets, and are horizontal layers of smaller sediment size that form as the main channel of the river shifts elsewhere and the larger particles of the bed load no longer are deposited. As the channels move across the top of the delta, the suspended load settles out in horizontal beds over the top. The topset bed is subdivided into two regions: the upper delta plain and the lower delta plain. The upper delta plain is unaffected by the tide, while the boundary with the lower delta plain is defined by the upper limit of tidal influence.

Deltas and alluvial fans

Deltas are differentiated from alluvial fan
Alluvial fan
An alluvial fan is a fan-shaped deposit formed where a fast flowing stream flattens, slows, and spreads typically at the exit of a canyon onto a flatter plain. A convergence of neighboring alluvial fans into a single apron of deposits against a slope is called a bajada, or compound alluvial...

s in that deltas have a shallow slope
Slope
In mathematics, the slope or gradient of a line describes its steepness, incline, or grade. A higher slope value indicates a steeper incline....

, contain fine-grained sediment
Sediment
Sediment is naturally occurring material that is broken down by processes of weathering and erosion, and is subsequently transported by the action of fluids such as wind, water, or ice, and/or by the force of gravity acting on the particle itself....

 (sand
Sand
Sand is a naturally occurring granular material composed of finely divided rock and mineral particles.The composition of sand is highly variable, depending on the local rock sources and conditions, but the most common constituent of sand in inland continental settings and non-tropical coastal...

 and mud
Mud
Mud is a mixture of water and some combination of soil, silt, and clay. Ancient mud deposits harden over geological time to form sedimentary rock such as shale or mudstone . When geological deposits of mud are formed in estuaries the resultant layers are termed bay muds...

), and always flow into a body of water. Alluvial fans, on the other hand, are steep, have coarse-grained sediments (including boulders), and are dominated by debris flow
Debris flow
A debris flow is a fast moving, liquefied landslide of unconsolidated, saturated debris that looks like flowing concrete. It is differentiated from a mudflow in terms of the viscosity and textural properties of the flow. Flows can carry material ranging in size from clay to boulders, and may...

s and large flood
Flood
A flood is an overflow of an expanse of water that submerges land. The EU Floods directive defines a flood as a temporary covering by water of land not normally covered by water...

s; these floods are often flash flood
Flash flood
A flash flood is a rapid flooding of geomorphic low-lying areas—washes, rivers, dry lakes and basins. It may be caused by heavy rain associated with a storm, hurricane, or tropical storm or meltwater from ice or snow flowing over ice sheets or snowfields...

s. They can either flow onto a land surface, or into a body of water; in the latter case, they are called alluvial fan deltas.

Examples of notable deltas

The most famous delta is that of the Nile River
Nile
The Nile is a major north-flowing river in North Africa, generally regarded as the longest river in the world. It is long. It runs through the ten countries of Sudan, South Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and Egypt.The Nile has two major...

, and it is this delta from which the term is derived. The Ganges/Brahmaputra
Brahmaputra River
The Brahmaputra , also called Tsangpo-Brahmaputra, is a trans-boundary river and one of the major rivers of Asia. It is the only Indian river that is attributed the masculine gender and thus referred to as a in Indo-Aryan languages and languages with Indo-Aryan influence...

 combination delta spans most of Bangladesh
Bangladesh
Bangladesh , officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh is a sovereign state located in South Asia. It is bordered by India on all sides except for a small border with Burma to the far southeast and by the Bay of Bengal to the south...

 and West Bengal
West Bengal
West Bengal is a state in the eastern region of India and is the nation's fourth-most populous. It is also the seventh-most populous sub-national entity in the world, with over 91 million inhabitants. A major agricultural producer, West Bengal is the sixth-largest contributor to India's GDP...

, empties into the Bay of Bengal and is the world's largest delta. Other rivers with notable deltas include, the Fly River
Fly River
The Fly at , is the second longest river, after the Sepik, in Papua New Guinea. The Fly is the largest river in Oceania, the largest in the world without a single dam in its catchment, and overall ranks as the twenty-fifth largest river in the world by volume of discharge...

, the Cauvery, the Niger River
Niger River
The Niger River is the principal river of western Africa, extending about . Its drainage basin is in area. Its source is in the Guinea Highlands in southeastern Guinea...

, the Tigris-Euphrates, the Rhine, the Po, the Rhône
Rhône
Rhone can refer to:* Rhone, one of the major rivers of Europe, running through Switzerland and France* Rhône Glacier, the source of the Rhone River and one of the primary contributors to Lake Geneva in the far eastern end of the canton of Valais in Switzerland...

, the Danube
Danube Delta
The Danube Delta is the second largest river delta in Europe, after the Volga Delta, and is the best preserved on the continent. The greater part of the Danube Delta lies in Romania , while its northern part, on the left bank of the Chilia arm, is situated in Ukraine . The approximate surface is...

, the Ebro
Ebro
The Ebro or Ebre is one of the most important rivers in the Iberian Peninsula. It is the biggest river by discharge volume in Spain.The Ebro flows through the following cities:*Reinosa in Cantabria.*Miranda de Ebro in Castile and León....

, the Volga
Volga River
The Volga is the largest river in Europe in terms of length, discharge, and watershed. It flows through central Russia, and is widely viewed as the national river of Russia. Out of the twenty largest cities of Russia, eleven, including the capital Moscow, are situated in the Volga's drainage...

, the Lena
Lena River
The Lena is the easternmost of the three great Siberian rivers that flow into the Arctic Ocean . It is the 11th longest river in the world and has the 9th largest watershed...

, the Indus
Indus River
The Indus River is a major river which flows through Pakistan. It also has courses through China and India.Originating in the Tibetan plateau of western China in the vicinity of Lake Mansarovar in Tibet Autonomous Region, the river runs a course through the Ladakh district of Jammu and Kashmir and...

, the Ayeyarwady
Ayeyarwady River
The Irrawaddy River or Ayeyarwady River is a river that flows from north to south through Burma . It is the country's largest river and most important commercial waterway. Originating from the confluence of the N'mai and Mali rivers, it flows relatively straight North-South before emptying through...

 (Irrawaddy), the Mekong
Mekong
The Mekong is a river that runs through China, Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. It is the world's 10th-longest river and the 7th-longest in Asia. Its estimated length is , and it drains an area of , discharging of water annually....

, the Huanghe
Yellow River
The Yellow River or Huang He, formerly known as the Hwang Ho, is the second-longest river in China and the sixth-longest in the world at the estimated length of . Originating in the Bayan Har Mountains in Qinghai Province in western China, it flows through nine provinces of China and empties into...

, the Yangtze
Yangtze River
The Yangtze, Yangzi or Cháng Jiāng is the longest river in Asia, and the third-longest in the world. It flows for from the glaciers on the Tibetan Plateau in Qinghai eastward across southwest, central and eastern China before emptying into the East China Sea at Shanghai. It is also one of the...

, the Sacramento-San Joaquin, the Mississippi
Mississippi River Delta
The Mississippi River Delta is the modern area of land built up by alluvium deposited by the Mississippi River as it slows down and enters the Gulf of Mexico...

, the Orinoco, and the Paraná
Paraná Delta
The Paraná Delta is the delta of the Paraná River in Argentina. The Paraná flows north–south and becomes an alluvial basin between the Argentine provinces of Entre Ríos and Santa Fe, then emptying into the Río de la Plata....

.

Ecological threats to deltas

Human activities, including diversion of water and the creation of dam
Dam
A dam is a barrier that impounds water or underground streams. Dams generally serve the primary purpose of retaining water, while other structures such as floodgates or levees are used to manage or prevent water flow into specific land regions. Hydropower and pumped-storage hydroelectricity are...

s for hydroelectric power or to create reservoir
Reservoir
A reservoir , artificial lake or dam is used to store water.Reservoirs may be created in river valleys by the construction of a dam or may be built by excavation in the ground or by conventional construction techniques such as brickwork or cast concrete.The term reservoir may also be used to...

s can radically alter delta ecosystems. Dams block sedimentation which can cause the delta to erode away. The use of water upstream can greatly increase salinity levels as less fresh water flows to meet the salty ocean water. While nearly all deltas have been impacted to some degree by humans, the Nile Delta
Nile Delta
The Nile Delta is the delta formed in Northern Egypt where the Nile River spreads out and drains into the Mediterranean Sea. It is one of the world's largest river deltas—from Alexandria in the west to Port Said in the east, it covers some 240 km of Mediterranean coastline—and is a rich...

 and Colorado River Delta
Colorado River Delta
The Colorado River Delta is the region where the Colorado River flows into the Gulf of California . The delta is part of a larger geologic region called the Salton Trough. Historically, the interaction of the river’s flow and the ocean’s tide created a dynamic environment, supporting freshwater,...

 are some of the most extreme examples of the ecological devastation caused to deltas by damming and diversion of water.

Deltas in the Economy

Ancient deltas are a benefit to the economy due to their well sorted sand
Sand
Sand is a naturally occurring granular material composed of finely divided rock and mineral particles.The composition of sand is highly variable, depending on the local rock sources and conditions, but the most common constituent of sand in inland continental settings and non-tropical coastal...

 and gravel
Gravel
Gravel is composed of unconsolidated rock fragments that have a general particle size range and include size classes from granule- to boulder-sized fragments. Gravel can be sub-categorized into granule and cobble...

. Sand and gravel is often quarried from these old deltas and used in concrete for highways, buildings, sidewalks, and even landscaping. More than 1 billion tons of sand and gravel are produced in the United States alone. Not all sand and gravel quarries are former deltas, but for ones that are, a lot of the sorting is already done by the power of water.

Deltas on Mars

Researchers have found a number of examples of deltas that formed in Martian lakes. Finding deltas is a major sign that Mars once had a lot of water. Deltas have been found over a wide geographical range. Below are pictures of a few.

See also

  • Alluvial fan
    Alluvial fan
    An alluvial fan is a fan-shaped deposit formed where a fast flowing stream flattens, slows, and spreads typically at the exit of a canyon onto a flatter plain. A convergence of neighboring alluvial fans into a single apron of deposits against a slope is called a bajada, or compound alluvial...

  • Avulsion (river)
    Avulsion (river)
    In sedimentary geology and fluvial geomorphology, avulsion is the rapid abandonment of a river channel and the formation of a new river channel. Avulsions occur as a result of channel slopes that are much lower than the slope that the river could travel if it took a new course.-Deltaic and...

  • Estuary
    Estuary
    An estuary is a partly enclosed coastal body of water with one or more rivers or streams flowing into it, and with a free connection to the open sea....

  • Formation of delta-shaped river basin
    Formation of delta-shaped river basin
    The formation of a river basin at the mouth of the river is usually characterised by the shape of a delta, the triangular Greek letter. The cause of this shape of the river basin may be explained by the theory of colloids.-Introduction:...

  • Mega delta
    Mega delta
    Mega delta is a generic term given to the very large Asian river deltas, viz. the Changjiang , Pearl, Red, Mekong, Irrawaddy, Ganges-Brahmaputra, and Indus.-Sources:*...


External links

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