Here are some river terms that you should familiarize yourself with. Although, many of these were most likely covered in your 6th grade science class.

Alluvial: To be deposited by running water.

Banks: Sides of a river or stream where the water flows.

Brackish: Water that is saltier than river water but less salty than sea water.

Channel: An area that contains flowing water confined by banks.

Channeled: grooved or cut deeply.

Delta: A place where new land is created, a Delta is a large, silty area at the mouth of a river at which the river splits into many different slow-flowing channels.

Fun Fact: Delta’s were named for their often-times triangular shape which also represents the Greek Letter “Delta.”

Effluent: Wastewater that flows from a factory or other facility.

Estuary: The area where a river meets the sea or ocean.

Headwaters: Streams and rivers (tributaries) that are the source of a larger stream or river.

Hydrologic Cycle: A fancy name for the water cycle.

Meander: To meander is to follow a winding path.

Mouth: The end of a river – where it empties into a large body of water.

Oxbow Lake: A stagnant lake that is formed alongside a meandering river after the river changes path because of soil erosion. Leaving an abandoned stream channel, cut off from the rest of the river.

Rill: Very small channel of water caused by runoff water that eroded the soil.

Riparian: Riparian means located by the banks of a river, stream, or other body of water.

River Bed: The bottom of the river.

Riverine: Relating to, similar to, or formed by a river.

Runoff: Water that drains into a river from uncontrolled streams, drains, or sewage lines. There is runoff from water, snowmelt, agricultural irrigation, storms, etc.

Salinity: Refers to the amount of salt that is dissolved in water.

Sediment: Small particles of soil or rocks that are transported by water and/or wind.

Silt: Very tiny particles of soil and/or rocks that are 3 to 60 micrometers in diameter.

Source: Refers to the beginning of a stream or river.

Tributary: A river or stream that flows into another stream, river, or lake.

Trunk: The trunk is the main path of the river.

Water Cycle: The natural cycle in which the sun’s energy evaporates water into the atmosphere and the water vapor condenses, returning to the Earth as precipitation.

Waterfall: A sudden drop in a river as it flows over a rock cliff. This happens when the river passes from a layer of hard rock to a layer of softer rock, and the water erodes away the softer rock.

Watershed: Refers to land that drains water into a particular stream, lake, or river.