Valleys are one of the most usual landforms ~ above the surface of the planet. Lock are sculpted by flowing water or flowing ice v the procedure of erosion, i m sorry is the progressive wearing far of earth surfaces v the action of wind and water. Valleys take on a wide selection of forms—from steep-sided canyons, such together the cool Canyon top top the Colorado River, to large plains, such as the lower Mississippi river valley. The kind of a valley counts on many factors, including what is eroding it, the slope of the floor surface, the nature the the soil or rock wherein the valley is being created, and time.

The form of the soil

A valley is a relatively big hollow or depression bounded through hills or mountains on Earth's surface ar that is developed by present erosion or glacial task and that is drained externally. A basin is one more hollow or depression top top Earth's surface, yet it has actually no outlet to drain the water. (For further information, view the container chapter.) Geologists refer to any kind of body of running water moving downslope in a defined channel together a stream (a flow is a large stream). A glacier is a big body of ice that created on land by the compaction and recrystallization of snow, survives year to year, and shows some authorize of activity downhill as result of gravity. The 3 main varieties of valleys are the V-shaped valley, the flat-floored valley, and the U-shaped valley.

A V-shaped sink is a narrow valley that has a profile suggesting the kind of the letter "V," identified by steeply sloping sides. It results from a present eroding downward, a process referred to as downcutting. V-shaped valleys form in mountains or other highland locations where streams space in their start or "youthful" stage and also are flowing quickly down steep slopes. The bottom that a valley is called its floor. In highland locations

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Blue Ridge hill Valley, phibìc Carolina. Valleys are carved by flow water or flow ice with the procedure of erosion, i m sorry is the steady wearing away of earth surfaces through the activity of wind and water . picture REPRODUCED through PERMISSION of THE
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near a stream's source, or beginning, the sink sides slope down virtually directly come the stream's banks, or political parties of its channel. The valley floor in this an ar is small or also nonexistent.

Valley: indigenous to understand

Alpine glacier: A fairly small glacier that develops in high elevations near the top of mountains. basic level: The level below which a stream can not erode. Erosion: The progressive wearing far of planet surfaces through the activity of wind and also water. Fjord: A deep glacial trough submerged through seawater. Floodplain: an area of practically flat land bordering a stream the is normally subject to regular flooding. Glacial trough: A U-shaped valley sculpted out that a V-shaped stream sink by the motion of a sink glacier. Glacier: A huge body of ice that created on soil by the compaction and recrystallization that snow, survives year to year, and also shows some sign of movement downhill as result of gravity. Hanging valley: A shallow glacial trough that leads right into the next of a larger, key glacial trough. Levee (natural): A short ridge or mound follow me a currently bank, created by shop left when floodwater slows down on leaving the channel. fixed wasting: The spontaneous movement of product down a steep in solution to gravity. Meander: A bending or loop in a stream's course. Rift valley: The deep main crevice in a mid-ocean ridge; also, a sink or trough formed in between two common faults. Stream: any type of body of to run water the moves downslope under the influence of gravity in a characterized channel ~ above Earth's surface. U-shaped valley: A valley produced by glacial erosion that has actually a profile saying the kind of the letter "U," defined by steep sides that may curve inward at your base and also a broad, virtually flat floor. valley glacier: one alpine glacier flow downward through a preexisting stream valley. V-shaped valley: A small valley developed by the downcutting action of a currently that has a profile saying the type of the letter "V," defined by steeply sloping sides.

Downstream, as the gradient or steep of the stream's channel lessens and also becomes more gentle, the floor that the valley widens. A stream in this stage is no longer taken into consideration youthful yet "mature." A stream flow at a moderate to low gradient has tendency to erode an ext along the banks of that channel than along the bed or bottom. Thus, the stream gradually sweeps across the sink floor in a collection of S-shaped bends dubbed meanders (pronounced me-AN-ders). Over time, together the stream continues to meander, the erodes away material on the valley floor, ever widening it. The shape of the valley alters progressively indigenous a spicy V come a wider V come one that has actually a level floor. This latter kind of valley, v a floor the is horizontal and also often wide, is known as a flat-floored valley. This form of sink is the many common.

Streams room systems for relocating sediment—rock debris such as clay, silt, sand, gravel, or even larger material—across Earth's surface to the world's oceans and seas. Naturally and also routinely, the circulation of water in a stream may become too high to be accommodated in the stream's channel. The water then flows end the stream's banks and also floods the neighboring land. As it does so, the water automatically slows down and drops any type of sediment it was carrying. Coarser sediment is deposited close to the channel. End time, as the procedure is repetitive over and also over, the sediment creates mounds called natural levees along the stream's banks. Finer sediment (sands, silt, and clay) brought by the water is spread out farther away from the channel prior to it is ultimately deposited. The flat or tenderness sloping surface developed by the repeated deposition of sediment along a stream is referred to as the stream's floodplain. A floodplain might cover every or just a portion of the valley floor. (For further information, view the Stream and also river and Floodplain chapters.)

A U-shaped valley is a valley that has a profile saying the kind of the letter "U," defined by steep sides that may curve inward at their bases and also a broad, nearly flat floor. Special, a U-shaped sink is one sculpted by glacial erosion. Special masses the ice the move progressively over Earth's surface, glaciers are discovered in areas close come the North and also South Poles, the too much northernmost and also southernmost point out on the globe, or in mountains at high elevations. Those that type over large areas of continent close to the poles are dubbed continental glaciers or ice cream sheets. Two continental glaciers are found on Earth: one covers 85 percent the Greenland in the north Hemisphere and also the various other covers much more than 95 percent of Antarctica in the southern Hemisphere. Reasonably small glaciers that type in high elevations near the tops of mountains are called alpine or mountain glaciers. (For more information, see the Glacial landforms and features chapter.)

because of their size and weight, continental glaciers destroy topography, leveling the surface features of a landscape. The result of alpine glaciers is not as extreme. They circulation down pre-existing V-shaped valleys developed by streams to kind U-shaped valleys. Since of this, lock are additionally known as valley glaciers. Vice versa, a stream only occupies the floor (or a main portion of it) in a V-shaped valley, a sink glacier occupies the whole valley, eroding both the sides and the floor as it moves, deepening and also widening the valley. U-shaped valleys are likewise known together glacial troughs.

Draining an area, streams have tendency to flow throughout the landscape in a treelike pattern: the smallest streams (the outer branches) flow into bigger streams (the inner branches), which circulation into the main stream (the trunk). Smaller streams that flow into larger ones are well-known as tributaries. When valley glaciers fill an area, they may occupy the valleys produced


by a main stream and also its nearest tributaries. Tributary valleys almost always sign up with the main stream valley at the same altitude or height, yet glacial activity deepens the main valley more than its side valleys. The shallower glacial troughs created by these smaller sized valley glaciers (known as tributary glaciers) are dubbed hanging valleys. If temperatures in the area increase, bring about the glaciers to melt and also retreat, meltwater from the glaciers may kind streams that run through these hanging valleys. In spectacular instances, streams in hanging valleys often autumn to the floor the the key valley as a waterfall.

In particular instances, a sink glacier may circulation all the way to a coastline, carving out a deep, narrow U-shaped valley. If the glacier melts, the valley may become flooded through seawater, creating an inlet known as a fjord (pronounced fee-ORD).

The ax rift valley is supplied to describe an area wherein a section of Earth's late (thin, solid outermost great of the planet) has dropped down between two typical faults (cracks or fractures in Earth's crust along which rock on one side has moved relative to rock on the other). Essentially, anytime the planet's tardy is subjected to compression or tension resulted in by heat forces beneath the crust, faults develop, and also some blocks of absent drop follow me these fractures loved one to the ground on either side. A rift valley is no a true valley. The dropped-down block or late that created a depression top top the surface ar of the floor is correctly referred to as a graben (pronounced GRAH-bin). Rift valleys, which are found about the world on continents and the ocean floors, are typically sites of volcanic and also earthquake activity. (For more information, watch the error chapter.)

Forces and changes: Construction and also destruction

The dominant agent that erosion ~ above the surface ar of the planet is flow water. Although the ice cream in glaciers is solid, it also flows (though more slowly 보다 water in a present channel). Both streams and also glaciers move downhill under the influence of gravity, the main driving force behind nearly all agents of erosion. As they relocate downward, they transfer sediment they have picked increase or that has actually fallen right into or top top them.

currently erosion

The shaping of currently valleys is as result of a mix of erosion by flow water and also mass wasting, the spontaneous activity of planet material down a slope in response to gravity. This go not include material transported bottom by streams, winds, or glaciers. V mass wasting, material from greater elevations is moved to lower elevations whereby streams, glaciers, and wind pick it up and move the to also lower elevations. Fixed wasting occurs consistently on all slopes. While some mass-wasting procedures act an extremely slowly, rather occur an extremely suddenly. The basic term landslide is supplied to define all fairly rapid forms of fixed wasting. (For more information, see the Landslide and also other gravity motions chapter.)

The literature Landscape

"The famous Yosemite sink lies in ~ the heart of it, and it contains the head waters of the Tuolumne and Merced rivers, 2 of the many songful streams in the world; innumerable lakes and also waterfalls and also silky lawns; the noblest forests, the loftiest granite domes, the deepest ice-sculptured cañon, the brightest crystalline pavements, the snowy mountains soaring into the sky twelve and thirteen thousands feet, arrayed in open ranks and spiry pinnacled groups partially be separated by tremendous cañons and also amphitheatres; gardens on their sunny brows, avalanches thundering down their long, white slopes, cataracts roaring gray and foaming in the crooked rough gorges, and glaciers in your shadowy recesses working in silence, progressively completing your sculpture; new-born lakes at their feet, blue and also green, totally free or encumbered through drifting icebergs like miniature Arctic Oceans, shining, sparkling, calm together stars."

—John Muir, Our nationwide Parks , 1901.

when a currently forms, it seeks out its base level, which is the level listed below which the stream cannot erode. Base level is the elevation of the huge body the water, such as a lake or ocean, into which a stream drains. The general or ultimate base level for most larger streams is sea level. Because that


The glacier-carved crescent-shaped Hunza valley in Pakistan . photograph REPRODUCED by PERMISSION that THE

a tributary, base level is the allude where that empties right into a larger stream. Aided by gravity, a stream do the efforts to with its base level as easily as possible. The bigger the difference in height in between the stream and its base level, the greater the erosive or cutting force of the stream. Momentary base level may type along a stream's course, such together those produced by a lake or resistant rock.

The resistance that the rock over which a stream flows determines the form of the initial currently valley. In a highland area, a stream's erosional pressure is directed along its bed, no its banks, as it looks for to lower its channel to basic level. If the rock over which the stream operation in this area is hard and also resistant to erosion, the currently will cut a narrow, steep-walled canyon. The valley created exists together a virtually vertical notch with no floor. If the rock is much less resistant come erosion, the stream will certainly still downcut, but the political parties of the valley will take on the characteristics V form as fixed wasting—rockfalls and also other varieties of landslides—widens the upper section of the valley.

rock hardness is vital factor in erosion, but a stream's capacity to cut depends on how much sediment it carries and also how quick it is flowing. The sediment lugged by a stream may have actually been eroded native the bed and banks of the stream, or the may have actually fallen into the stream ~ a mass-wasting occasion moved it down a steep bordering the stream's channel. Water moving at a low velocity or speed have the right to move just small, fine particles such together sand, silt, and clay. Water moving at a high velocity deserve to move a bigger amount of both tiny particles and also large, coarse corpuscle such as boulders. Water that flows erratically, providing rise come swirls and also eddies, is stated to be turbulent, and turbulent water have the right to move the coarsest and also greatest quantity of particles.

A stream erodes v hydraulic action and abrasion. Hydraulic action is the force exerted by the water itself. This force works along the banks of streams, attacking and also undermining great of soil and also rock. Abrasion is the grinding and also scraping that the stream's banks and bed by the sediment carried by the stream.

once a currently flows out of a highland area, getting to an elevation the is closer come its base level, it begins to slow down. In this state, the present is still eroding downward, but its main pressure of erosion is directly laterally or horizontally against its banks. It starts meandering, winding ago and forth, carving the end a sink floor in between valley walls or bluffs. Periodically, the stream will certainly flood all or a component of its valley, depositing sediment top top its emerging floodplain.

at the lower reaches of a stream, whereby it viewpoints base level, the sink it flows with will be open, wide, and flat-bottomed. Valley walls, if they even exist, will certainly be far away from the currently channel.

Glacial erosion

relocating glaciers not only transport product as castle move, they also sculpt and also carve far the land in ~ them. A glacier's weight, combined with its progressive movement, can dramatically reshape the landscape.

A sink glacier moves to reduced elevations under the force of gravity through a mix of inner flow and sliding in ~ its base. The ice cream in a glacier is for this reason dense and under such press that it starts to behave choose a special tar, flow outward and downward. Glacial motion through this internal flow is really slow. On average, it procedures only an customs or 2 (a few centimeters) a day. In a valley glacier, ice cream in the upper main part moves much faster than ice cream at the sides, whereby it is in call with the sink walls. The considerable weight of a sink glacier likewise creates substantial pressure at its base, and this pressure lowers the temperature at which ice melts. A great of water develops in between the glacial ice and also the ground. The water reduce friction by lubricating the floor and permitting the glacier to on slide on that bed.

A valley glacier is capable of eroding and also transporting vast amounts of sediment. As the glacier moves, its ice cream flows into and refreezes in fractures in the absent walls and floor of the valley. The glacier climate plucks that rocky product away through it, few of which might be boulders the size of houses. This


The 150-mile-long Shenandoah sink in northern Virginia . photo REPRODUCED by PERMISSION of THE

material then becomes embedded in the ice at the base and also along the political parties of the glacier. Together the glacier continues to move, the embedded material abrades or scrapes the rock neighboring the glacier favor a huge file.

adhering to an present V-shaped valley, a glacier erodes the valley, deepening and widening it. The may increase the width of the valley by as lot as tens of mile (kilometers). The glacier additionally flattens the valley floor since ice tends to cut down end a wider area 보다 flowing water. As soon as the glacier ultimately retreats, a thick layer the glacial sediment referred to as ground moraine remains, filling in any irregularities in the sink floor.

Spotlight on famous forms

Napa Valley, California

California's Napa valley is world-renowned for having a wide range of soils and also climate conditions that assist produce grapes that space made right into quality wines. The small valley is 30 mile (48 kilometers) long and 1 come 6 mile (1.6 to 9.6 kilometers) wide. It occupies an area of around 300,000 acre (120,000 hectares).

at its northern finish lies the region's largest mountain, mount St. Helena. That southern finish opens to san Pablo Bay, an eight of the san Francisco just system. The valley is bordered by two hill ranges, the Vaca mountains on the east and the Macayamas hills on the west. Flowing v the center of this sink is the 50-mile-long (80-kilometer-long) Napa River.

The valley started to form about four million years back when heat forces beneath Earth's crust in this region forced soil on either next of the present-day valley upward right into mountains. Details areas between the hills were widened and also lowered into troughs together a result. Napa sink is such an area. After ~ the valley's formation, eruptions from number of volcanoes bordering the sink blanketed the floor in volcanic cinders and also ash that built up to layers thousands of feet thick.

Shenandoah Valley, Virginia

The Shenandoah valley in northern Virginia is component of the good Valley the the Appalachians, which stretches from Pennsylvania to Alabama. The Shenandoah Valley, i beg your pardon is around 150 mile (241 kilometers) long, lies in between the Blue Ridge hills on the east and also the Allegheny mountains on the west.

Both hill ranges are component of the Appalachian hill system, which created over 300 million year ago. The an effective erosive pressures of water, wind, and frost have significantly eroded the Appalachians due to the fact that then. Water runoff has carved the mountains' distinctive alternating pattern the ridges and also valleys.

The Shenandoah River, which runs with the valley, is a tributary that the grape max River. It was the an initial of the tributaries in the area to reach the soft limestone layer the is currently the basic of the Shenandoah Valley. Intercepting stream ~ stream west that the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Shenandoah flow grew. As it did, it sculpted out the Shenandoah Valley, dissolving the limestone and carrying the sediments phibìc to the Potomac.

Yosemite Valley, California

lied in the Sierra Nevada mountains in main California is a 0.5-mile (0.8-kilometer) deep depression. Measuring 7 miles (11 kilometers) long and 1 mile (1.6 kilometers) wide, Yosemite valley lies in ~ the love of Yosemite nationwide Park, which incorporates 761,170 acre (304,468 hectares).

The Merced flow runs through the valley. Geologists calculation that a few million years ago, it started to carve a valley wherein the present-day


Yosemite Valley, seven miles long and one mile across, to be formed during six an essential geologic step that arisen over millions of years . picture REPRODUCED by PERMISSION the THE

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Yosemite valley lies. The Sierra Nevada hills were uplifted and also tilted westward, resulting in the river to gradually, climate rapidly, erode a deep, steep-walled canyon. About 2 million years ago, phibìc America's climate began to cool and also glaciers started to form. During one that the major glacial periods, around 700,000 year ago, ice cream thickness in the area was as much as 6,000 feet (1,829 meters). Massive, flowing glacial ice resulted in tremendous amounts of rock to it is in carved and also transported come the area, producing massive absent formations the still exist.

The flow and retreat that glaciers through Yosemite Valley occurred many times until about 10,000 years ago, as soon as the last major glacial duration ended in north America. What continued to be was a U-shaped valley that was in reality deeper 보다 the present-day Yosemite Valley. Rock debris indigenous the glacier had actually dammed the sink creating ancient Lake Yosemite, which extended the sink floor. Streams native hanging valleys above fell in towering waterfalls. The tallest of these is Yosemite Falls, which presently fall 2,425 feet (739 meters) to the sink floor. Ultimately, sediment to fill in the lake till it developed the existing sink floor.

For an ext Information


Huber, N. King. The Geologic Story of Yosemite national Park . Washington, D.C.: U.S. Geology Survey, 1987.

web Sites

"A Glacier Carves a U-Shaped Valley." U.S. Geology Survey and also the national Park service . (accessed on august 14, 2003).

"Valley and also Stream Erosion." Bryant Watershed task . (accessed on august 14, 2003).

sink Glaciers . (accessed on august 14, 2003).