Life of a river from headwaters to the sea

Carla Grandy
City College of San Francisco
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This is an in class activity to demonstrate to students typical features associated with streams in different topographic settings from headwaters to the mouth of the stream.

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This activity is used in an introductory earth science course for non-majors.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Students need a basic knowledge of erosional and depositional processes in fluvial environment and a basic understanding of river systems.

How the activity is situated in the course

This is a stand-alone exercise to help students understand fluvial systems.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

The concept goals of this exercise are (1) help students to connect fluvial landforms with the topographic setting in which they occur and (2) helpt ehm to understand the forces affecting fluvial systems.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Other skills goals for this activity

Description of the activity/assignment

The exercise is a virtual fly through of a river system from its headwaters in the mountains to its mouth at the ocean. As a classroom activity we travel (via satellite images) through a stream system and observe the changes in gradient, stream channel pattern, discharge, and depositional and erosional features. Students are able to observe the topographic settings in which various fluvial systems form.
Designed for a geomorphology course
Integrates geomorphology into a core course in geology
Designed for an introductory geology course
Uses online and/or real-time data
Has minimal/no quantitative component

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