Deposition is the processes where material being transported by a river is deposited. Deposition occurs when a river loses energy. This can be when a river enters a shallow area (this coud be when it floods and comes into contact with the flood plain) or towards its mouth where it meets another body of water.
Rivers flood on a regular basis. The area over which they flood is known as the floodplain and this often coincides with regions where meanders form. Meanders support the formation of flood plains through lateral erosion.
When rivers flood the velocity of water slows. As the result of this the river’s capacity to transport material is reduced and deposition occurs. This deposition leaves a layer of sediment across the whole floodplain. After a series of floods layers of sediment form along the flood plain.
Larger material and the majority of deposition occurs next to the river channel. This is the result of increased friction (with the flood plain) causing the velocity of the river to slow and therefore rapidly reduce its ability to transport material. This leaves a ridge of higher material next to the river channel on both banks of the river known as a levee.
The stages in the formation of a natural levee
An estuary is a wide, sheltered body of water found at a river’s mouth where it broadens into the sea. It is a combination of salt water from the sea and fresh water from a river. As the river meets the sea at high tide it slows the flow of water leading to sediment being deposited. The sediment forms mudflats. The mudflats can be seen at low tide but are covered by water at high tide. Overtime, the mud flats can become colonised with vegetation forming salt marshes.
Mudflats along the Humber Estuary.