Processes of River Erosion, Transport, and Deposition

Compiled by Mark Francek (more info) at Carleton College (more info) (SERC) (more info) and Central Michigan University (more info)

Find animations showing processes of river erosion, transport and deposition.

Click here to browse the complete set of Visualization Collections (more info) .

Meandering River visualization
Terrestrial Animations This set of animations from the Community Surface Dynamics Modeling System (CSDMS) group contains 16 movies of various river processes. Movies include meander formation, floodplain evolution, floods, river engineering, landscape evolution, dams and more.

Saltation Closeup, Kansas State University ( This site may be offline. ) This QuickTime movie illustrates stream bed load transport. The process of saltation is especially apparent. Note how the collision of one grain will set another into motion. Because the animation can be paused and rewound, it is easy to view saltation.

Modes of Sediment Transport, McGraw Hill (more info) A Flash animation shows the various forms of stream sediment transport like sliding, rolling, saltation, suspension, and dissolved load. Access the animation by clicking on the " Modes of Sediment Transport" link.

Stream Deposition Patterns, Exploring Earth (more info) This Flash animation reveals deposition patterns associated with a river flowing into a lake. Gravel is deposited closest to shore, with sand and clay sized sediments laid down with decreasing flow velocities. Note that individual clay particles (which are visible in this animation) are too small to be seen without a powerful microscope.

Sediment Video Movies, University of Wyoming ( This site may be offline. ) Find 25 QuickTime movies using actual film footage capturing a variety of deposition patterns including ripples, planar bed, ripples, debris flows, and turbidity currents. The migration of sand bars along the Loup River of Nebraska is especially worthwhile. Movies are quite large, ranging from 2 Mb to 30 Mb in size.

Sand Bar Migration, University of Wyoming ( This site may be offline. ) This QuickTime movie uses actual time lapse video to capture the migration of submerged sand bars along the Loup River of Nebraska. The authors highlight bar crests in yellow so it is easy to see downstream migration patterns. The movie can be paused and rewound to emphasize important points.

Graded Stream, Wiley This Flash animation, with accompanying audio, loads slowly but this is a worthwhile portrayal of the graded stream concept. The relationship between flow, erosion, and deposition is depicted for a steep and gentle stream profile. The graded stream concept is also applied for a flood scenario.