What is a meander – Geologist describes meandering streams, rivers and oxbow lakes.


Hello Young People. Entrenched Meander. This is the Yakima River just south of Ellensburg,
Washington. Meanders are a feature of old age. These sweeping
curves of the river. As rivers age they develop more and more exaggerated meanders. We know
this by flying over the Mississippi River system. And we see all stages of meander development
back there. Eventually, the meander become so exaggerated
that that curve is abandoned and an oxbow lake is formed. And the channel becomes straight
again. We can only develop these curves when an area
is flat like back east at the Mississippi. And here we’ve got these exaggerated curves
as well which means central Washington used to be flat. But there’s a twist. This place isn’t flat
anymore. This is a deep canyon system. So to understand that twist, how ’bout we get
up on that rim and get a big picture view of the Yakima River Canyon. Let’s go up there. High up above the Yakima River on the rim
of the canyon looking down. There’s one of our meanders. We know about meanders. The
meanders got established when the area was flat. A subtle curve becoming a more exaggerated
curve. But then we froze the position of this meander, and we entrenched it. Entrenched meanders tell us that the land
is lifting against the river. The river wasn’t up here and was cut down. We’re sure that
the river has been down there for millions of years and the land has been lifting against
the meander – against the river. The river’s been cutting, matching an uplift rate of the
bedrock. Basalt layer after basalt layer exposing themselves on the way up. The future of this meander is not more exaggerated
meander. Development of an oxbow lake. Instead, the future of this curve is more cutting.
Because the uplift continues here in central Washington. Entrenched Meanders. Just south of Ellensburg,
Washington.

100 thoughts on “What is a meander – Geologist describes meandering streams, rivers and oxbow lakes.

  1. No, it wasn't me. Though I have been there before. Awesome location! Hey, I hope you and Tom continue with this series. I have really enjoyed it. May be you can double it and do a 4 minute Geology. May be you could do a video on the Mima Mounds west of LIttlerock, WA

  2. Could you put the lat longs or a googlemap url to the point where you took these pictures? It would be cool to use this in my class to teach the kids while doing a googlemaps fly over. Thanks for the awesome vids.

  3. Uplift intensifies erosion, IronMan. Your potholes and fast water make sense with an entrenched meander system. We have geodetic instruments measuring uplift rates.

  4. I really have enjoyed all these videos and have learned a lot more than I already knew, and I must say that our local geology is inspiring in the sense that it is as humbling as astronomy once we understand the scale of time on landscape.

  5. Hello from Australia!,
    Excellent explanation and approach to geology.
    Waiting for your next vids 
    Thanks!

  6. thestadermann….the uplift is being driven by a graceful clockwise rotation within the North American Plate here in the Pacific Northwest.  The rotation is from movement of the Pacific and Juan De Fuca plates.  Thanks for your interest.

  7. I'm a 23 year old architecture student and this is really useful to me! Thanks mate!

  8. Nick~ Great videos Sir.  I grew up on the bridgeport Bar downstream of Chief Joseph dam.  I hunted all over the area and was always impressed with the geology and wondered about the "white rocks",columnar basalt, the chalkhills on the way to waterville, dry falls, et al…  Thank You, will we be seeing more?

  9. Very nicely explained. A good effort from the Prof. I would wish to see more such videos.

  10. he didn't even explain how the sediment is moved by the water so you get a meander… He just explained what happens but not how it happens. It would be better to also show a picture with how the water flows in the corners, eroding the sediment in one place and depositing it in the other.

  11. Thank you i have a geo test tomorrow and a national curiculam one too, thank you! greetings from dubai

  12. fantastic resource, really well explained, showed to my A level group in UK, they love you!!

  13. Thanks for explaining this so well. I have a test coming up for geology on water systems. 

  14. There is so much more to meanders. This is like saying an airplane is something that flies through the air.

  15. Hey @Nick Zentner  Could you also please do a video on mushroom rocks and how they're formed? I have an exam coming up and desperately need to understand the phenomenon. Thanks 🙂

  16. "Oxbow lakes are formed when a river's meander
    gets too wibbly, wibbly, wobbly to maintain the course it's on
    The main flow of the stream diverts itself accordingly
    Leaving the oxbow lake behind but here's my questions son."

    "What the hell's an Oxbow?
    Are our bovine friends fashioning weaponry?
    Someone should tell me
    Do I need to buy a shield"

    "Oxes just ain't known for their
    Dexterous ability
    You need to watch out for them
    Or you might lose an eye."

    – Weebl 2013 –

  17. Moraines are ridges composed of poorly-sorted glacial till.  They form at the edges of glaciers, so even when the ice melts away…we can determine where glaciers sat during the Ice Age.  We'll do a video on moraines at some point down the road…

  18. I have been trying to use entrenched meanders to show a creationist why Noah's Ark never happened.  So far I have been using those of the Goosenecks State Park.   But since I have been living here for roughly thirty years now I think I will link this video too.

  19. i am a little confused sir…..plse explain the difference between entrenched meanders and meanders or are they both same??

  20. Nice presentation Sir. Can you make a video on different type of streams like subsequent, consequent, obsequent etc.

  21. None of this addresses the fact that meanders develop on a completely flat surface i.e. a piece of glass due to the nature of how water moves i.e. the sine curve. It would be nice to have a simple description of this. My high school teacher demonstrated it on a sand board. Absolutely fascinating

  22. Hi,
    Can anyone tell the difference between entranched ingrown and incised meander.

  23. hello sir, what is the difference between incised meander and entrenched meander

  24. I have read that you can use Pi in a formula to determine rivers true length with meanders…

  25. How do meanders form? Surely wouldn't the water want to reach sea level the fastest way possible, or am I missing something here :S .

  26. Very good explanation. Great landscape. Thankyou for this video.

  27. That's cool! I always assumed that rivers just carved their way deep into the land. Love your series! It's very entertaining and informative.

  28. What's the future of a formation like that? Seems as now that the river is "intrenched" it will likely cut an extremely sheer path for itself as the ground rises, possibly leading to an eventual collapse? Just curious.

  29. i am always down to get up on that rim- as long as it's a chick. : )

  30. i want to hit the like button so badly for your video, but it's at 619 likes and it's too SD for me to disrupt. hahaha.

  31. i don't think this right. First meanders are not still easily understood in formation. many say they are formed by secondary currents. It doesn't matter if its flatland.
    So the formation in rock is the same as in dirt. that mechanism is the same most likely.
    so as a creationist i say the mechanism must of been quick and over quick.
    Luna leopold and albert Einstein had ideas on their creation. The uplift thing is a myth.

  32. Brilliant Nick! Brilliant !!!! I live by the Grand Canyon, and I’m assuming the same geological concept. Thank you!

  33. He just climed a freggin mountain in a button up and bowtie! He is serious lol

  34. Interesting and informative, thank you……

    Perhaps you would know, I have been trying to find the geological history/story of a few rivers near where I live in N.E Pa. However Google n uTube has lots on the rivers (Delaware, Hudson, Lehigh n Susquahanna rivers) but next to nothing on it's evolution, age ect. By chance can you point me in the proper direction to learn more on this subject.

    I live just 15 mi. from the Delawhare water gap, this is such a interesting place….. Just Love to know more about it….. Also to my un educated eye, it sure seems long ago the Delaware made a 180 turn at Port Jervis NY since it sure looks like the Delaware once emptied in the Hudson River before the Catskills poped up…..

  35. The Fraser has lots of meanders in its upper stretch SE of Prince George (called the Robson Valley as Mount Robson is at the SE end of it), and especially in the Lower Fraser below Hope. Hatzic Lake is a meander that became an oxbow lake, for a prime example; it was a meander of the Fraser at one time.

    I look forward to your piece on the formation of the Fraser-Whatcom Lowland; did you know the Fraser used to exit via Bellingham Bay and that there are ripple formations in the Everson WA area farmland, which is the rise of ground between what had been Sumas Lake (until it was drained in the early 20th Century) and where the Fraser would have flowed at one time…… I think into Bellingham Bay but maybe north of there I'm not sure exactly.

    There's a huge switchback on the Fraser between Fountain and Lillooet just above the Bridge River Rapids, which are formed by a rock shelf and which in gold rush times were called "the Falls of the Fraser". But it wasn't cut by a meander but the result of the river being forced to turn north 180 degrees, then south 180 degrees, within a mile radius, despite the 5000'-7000' peaks on all sides.. .when you do visit you'll note the benchlands north of Pavilion are sometimes higher than what's below… but a slide at Texas Creek about 20 miles south of Lillooet is known to have formed the bench where the Keatley Creek archaeological site is (a few miles north of Fountain; but benches south of there were formed by a more southerly blockage of the river… around where Hell's Gate is south of Boston Bar (which is on a bench, but which would have been underwater when the benches between Lytton and Lillooet were formed.

    Lots up here for you to have a look at, my friend.

  36. Just like horseshoe bend near Glen Canyon dam, on the Colorado River. Awesome for explaining this. It makes perfect sense now. Same applies to the Grand Canyon.

  37. Nick, a great river to use as a reference that you actually were using is the Mississippi River. The land rose so much during one episode of the Madrid Fault going off (during a Grand Solar Minimum) an earthquake, lifted the land so much the Mississippi flowed the opposite direction. For a short time but, wow! Is this true or is this hype?

  38. But what is the reason of meanders? It is not at all explained, and its explanation lies in the fluid mechanics.

  39. I thought I knew stuff and now I'm having to re-think everything. ✌️️

  40. Nick it's Helicoidal Flow and Meanders also have riffles and pools. Also Erosion and Deposition!

  41. So… you're saying expose yourself, because that's what Mother Nature did? I'll have to watch again.

  42. At 2:47. How long until the oxbow lake forms there? Looks like its getting close. A few million years perhaps?

  43. So does this mean the Pacific plate is sliding underneath the west coast of the United States slowly lifting it up?

  44. Nick, I've got a couple decades on you, but I can't tell you how much I enjoy being addressed in the beginning of the video as "young person". I'm still learning, in spite of my years! Edit – I've enjoyed bunches of your videos, both the short and full length ones. Thanks for all you've shared!

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