Valleys are one of the most usual landforms top top the surface of the planet. Castle are sculpted by flow water or flowing ice with the process of erosion, i beg your pardon is the steady wearing away of earth surfaces with the action of wind and also water. Valleys take on a wide range of forms—from steep-sided canyons, such as the grand Canyon on the Colorado River, to large plains, such together the reduced Mississippi flow valley. The form of a valley depends on plenty of factors, consisting of what is eroding it, the slope of the soil surface, the nature that the soil or rock wherein the valley is being created, and also time.

The shape of the land

A sink is a relatively big hollow or depression bounded through hills or hills on Earth's surface that is arisen by stream erosion or glacial task and that is drained externally. A basin is another hollow or depression top top Earth's surface, however it has no outlet to drain the water. (For more information, check out the container chapter.) Geologists refer to any type of body of to run water moving downslope in a identified channel together a stream (a river is a big stream). A glacier is a large body of ice that formed on floor by the compaction and recrystallization of snow, survives year come year, and shows some authorize of activity downhill due to gravity. The 3 main species of valleys are the V-shaped valley, the flat-floored valley, and also the U-shaped valley.

A V-shaped valley is a narrow valley that has a profile saying the type of the letter "V," identified by steeply sloping sides. It results from a present eroding downward, a procedure referred to as downcutting. V-shaped valleys form in hills or other highland areas where streams room in their beginning or "youthful" stage and are flowing promptly down steep slopes. The bottom that a sink is referred to as its floor. In highland areas

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Blue Ridge mountain Valley, phibìc Carolina. Valleys are carved by flow water or flowing ice with the procedure of erosion, i m sorry is the steady wearing far of earth surfaces with the activity of wind and water . picture REPRODUCED through PERMISSION the THE
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close to a stream's source, or beginning, the sink sides steep down virtually directly come the stream's banks, or sides of that channel. The valley floor in this an ar is narrow or even nonexistent.

Valley: indigenous to recognize

Alpine glacier: A reasonably small glacier that forms in high elevations near the tops of mountains. base level: The level listed below which a stream cannot erode. Erosion: The gradual wearing far of earth surfaces with the activity of wind and also water. Fjord: A deep glacial trough submerged with seawater. Floodplain: one area of almost flat land bordering a stream the is normally subject to regular flooding. Glacial trough: A U-shaped valley carved out of a V-shaped stream valley by the activity of a sink glacier. Glacier: A large body of ice cream that created on soil by the compaction and also recrystallization the snow, survives year to year, and also shows some authorize of movement downhill due to gravity. Hanging valley: A shallow glacial trough the leads right into the side of a larger, main glacial trough. Levee (natural): A low ridge or mound along a present bank, created by shop left as soon as floodwater slows down on leaving the channel. massive wasting: The spontaneous motion of material down a slope in solution to gravity. Meander: A bend 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 running water the moves downslope under the influence of gravity in a identified channel on Earth's surface. U-shaped valley: A valley developed by glacial erosion that has a profile suggesting the type of the letter "U," characterized by steep political parties that might curve inward at your base and also a broad, virtually flat floor. sink glacier: an alpine glacier flow downward v a preexisting currently valley. V-shaped valley: A narrow valley produced by the downcutting activity of a present that has actually a profile saying the kind of the letter "V," defined by steeply sloping sides.

Downstream, together the gradient or steep of the stream's channel lessens and becomes more gentle, the floor the the sink widens. A currently in this stage is no longer considered youthful however "mature." A stream flow at a moderate to low gradient tends to erode more along the financial institutions of that channel 보다 along its bed or bottom. Thus, the stream slowly sweeps throughout the sink floor in a collection of S-shaped bends dubbed meanders (pronounced me-AN-ders). End time, as the stream proceeds to meander, it erodes away product on the sink floor, ever widening it. The shape of the valley transforms progressively native a spicy V come a more comprehensive V to one that has a level floor. This latter form of valley, through a floor the is horizontal and often wide, is known as a flat-floored valley. This kind of valley is the many common.

Streams space systems for relocating sediment—rock debris such as clay, silt, sand, gravel, or also larger material—across Earth's surface ar to the world's oceans and also seas. Naturally and routinely, the circulation of water in a currently may become too high to it is in accommodated in the stream's channel. The water climate flows over the stream's banks and floods the neighboring land. As it walk so, the water instantly slows down and drops any sediment it was carrying. Coarser sediment is deposited near the channel. Over time, as the procedure is repetitive over and over, the sediment forms mounds referred to as natural dams along the stream's banks. Finer sediment (sands, silt, and also clay) lugged by the water is spread out farther far from the channel prior to it is ultimately deposited. The level or gently sloping surface developed by the repetitive deposition the sediment follow me a present is referred to as the stream's floodplain. A floodplain may cover all or just a portion of the valley floor. (For additional information, watch the Stream and river and also Floodplain chapters.)

A U-shaped sink is a valley that has actually a profile arguing the type of the letter "U," characterized by steep sides that might curve inward at their bases and a broad, virtually flat floor. Specifics a U-shaped sink is one carved by glacial erosion. Thick masses the ice that move gradually over Earth's surface, glaciers are discovered in regions close to the North and South Poles, the excessive northernmost and also southernmost clues on the globe, or in hills at high elevations. Those that form over big areas of continents close come the poles are called continental glaciers or ice cream sheets. Two continental glaciers are discovered on Earth: one consist of 85 percent that Greenland in the north Hemisphere and the various other covers more than 95 percent the Antarctica in the southerly Hemisphere. Reasonably small glaciers that type in high elevations close to the tops of mountains are dubbed alpine or mountain glaciers. (For additional information, view the Glacial landforms and also features chapter.)

due to the fact that of your size and weight, continental glaciers damage topography, leveling the surface features of a landscape. The effect of alpine glaciers is no as extreme. They circulation down pre-existing V-shaped valleys created by streams to form U-shaped valleys. Because of this, castle are also known together valley glaciers. Vice versa, a stream just occupies the floor (or a main section of it) in a V-shaped valley, a valley glacier rectal the whole valley, eroding both the sides and also the floor together it moves, deepening and also widening the valley. U-shaped valleys are additionally known together glacial troughs.

Draining an area, streams have tendency to flow across the see in a treelike pattern: the the smallest streams (the external branches) circulation into larger streams (the inner branches), which circulation into the key stream (the trunk). Smaller streams that flow into larger ones are well-known as tributaries. As soon as valley glaciers fill an area, they may occupy the valleys produced


by a main stream and its nearest tributaries. Tributary valleys almost always sign up with the main stream sink at the very same altitude or height, however glacial activity deepens the key valley an ext than its side valleys. The shallower glacial troughs developed by these smaller sized valley glaciers (known as tributary glaciers) are referred to as hanging valleys. If temperature in the area increase, bring about the glaciers come melt and retreat, meltwater indigenous the glaciers may form streams that run with these hanging valleys. In spectacular instances, streams in hanging valleys often loss to the floor that the key valley together a waterfall.

In details instances, a valley glacier may flow all the means to a coastline, carving out a deep, narrow U-shaped valley. If the glacier melts, the valley may become flooded through seawater, forming an inlet recognized as a fjord (pronounced fee-ORD).

The hatchet rift sink is used to define an area whereby a section of Earth's crust (thin, heavy outermost layer of the planet) has dropped down in between two common faults (cracks or fractures in Earth's crust follow me which rock on one side has actually moved loved one to rock on the other). Essentially, anytime the planet's tardy is subjected to compression or tension caused by heat pressures beneath the crust, faults develop, and also some blocks of absent drop along these fractures relative to the floor on one of two people side. A rift sink is no a true valley. The dropped-down block or tardy that created a depression ~ above the surface ar of the ground is correctly referred to as a graben (pronounced GRAH-bin). Rift valleys, which are found around the human being on continents and also the s floors, are typically sites the volcanic and earthquake activity. (For additional information, view the error chapter.)

Forces and changes: Construction and also destruction

The leading agent the erosion top top the surface of the world is flowing water. Return the ice cream in glaciers is solid, it also flows (though much more slowly than water in a stream channel). Both streams and also glaciers move downhill under the influence of gravity, the key driving pressure behind nearly all agents the erosion. As they relocate downward, they transfer sediment they have picked increase or that has fallen into or ~ above them.

present erosion

The shaping of currently valleys is due to a combination of erosion by flowing water and mass wasting, the spontaneous motion of planet material under a steep in an answer to gravity. This does not encompass material transported bottom by streams, winds, or glaciers. Through mass wasting, material from greater elevations is moved to lower elevations whereby streams, glaciers, and also wind pick it up and also move it to also lower elevations. Massive wasting occurs continuously on every slopes. While part mass-wasting procedures act really slowly, others occur really suddenly. The general term landslide is provided to explain all fairly rapid forms of fixed wasting. (For further information, check out the Landslide and also other gravity movements chapter.)

The literary Landscape

"The renowned Yosemite valley lies in ~ the heart of it, and it has the head waters the the Tuolumne and Merced rivers, two of the many songful streams in the world; innumerable lakes and waterfalls and also silky lawns; the noblest forests, the loftiest granite domes, the deepest ice-sculptured cañon, the brightest crystalline pavements, the snowy hills soaring right into the sky twelve and thirteen thousand feet, arrayed in open up ranks and also spiry pinnacled groups partially separated by remarkable cañons and also amphitheatres; gardens top top their clear brows, avalanches thundering under their long, white slopes, cataracts roaring gray and foaming in the crooked rough gorges, and glaciers in your shadowy recesses functioning in silence, slowly completing their sculpture; new-born lakes at their feet, blue and also green, cost-free or encumbered through drifting icebergs prefer miniature Arctic Oceans, shining, sparkling, calm together stars."

—John Muir, Our national Parks , 1901.

as soon as a stream forms, it looks for out its basic level, i m sorry is the level below which the stream cannot erode. Base level is the elevation of the large body of water, such as a lake or ocean, right into which a currently drains. The basic or ultimate base level because that most bigger streams is sea level. For


The glacier-carved crescent-shaped Hunza sink in Pakistan . picture REPRODUCED by PERMISSION of THE

a tributary, base level is the allude where it empties right into a larger stream. Aided by gravity, a stream do the efforts to reach its base level as easily as possible. The larger the difference in height between the stream and its base level, the greater the erosive or cutting pressure of the stream. Temporary base level may kind along a stream's course, such together those created by a lake or resistant rock.

The resistance of the rock over which a stream operation determines the form of that initial present valley. In a highland area, a stream's erosional pressure is directed follow me its bed, no its banks, together it looks for to lower its channel to base level. If the rock over which the stream operation in this area is hard and also resistant to erosion, the present will cut a narrow, steep-walled canyon. The valley created exists together a practically vertical notch v no floor. If the absent is less resistant to erosion, the stream will certainly still downcut, however the sides of the valley will certainly take ~ above the properties V shape as fixed wasting—rockfalls and other types of landslides—widens the upper portion of the valley.

absent hardness is an important factor in erosion, however a stream's ability to reduced depends on just how much sediment the carries and also how fast it is flowing. The sediment brought by a stream may have been eroded indigenous the bed and banks the the stream, or that may have actually fallen right into the stream after a mass-wasting occasion moved it down a slope bordering the stream's channel. Water moving at a low velocity or speed have the right to move only small, fine corpuscle such as sand, silt, and clay. Water relocating at a high velocity have the right to move a bigger amount the both little particles and also large, coarse corpuscle such together boulders. Water the flows erratically, providing rise to swirls and eddies, is claimed to be turbulent, and turbulent water have the right to move the coarsest and greatest quantity of particles.

A present erodes v hydraulic action and abrasion. Hydraulic action is the pressure exerted by the water itself. This force works follow me the financial institutions of streams, attacking and undermining layers of soil and also rock. Abrasion is the grinding and also scraping the the stream's banks and also bed by the sediment lugged by the stream.

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

at the lower reaches the a stream, wherein it ideologies base level, the sink it flows v will be open, wide, and flat-bottomed. Sink walls, if they also exist, will certainly be far away indigenous the present channel.

Glacial erosion

moving glaciers not only transport product as lock move, they additionally sculpt and also carve far the land in ~ them. A glacier's weight, an unified with its gradual movement, can considerably reshape the landscape.

A valley glacier moves to reduced elevations under the force of gravity through a mix of inner flow and also sliding in ~ its base. The ice cream in a glacier is for this reason dense and under such press that it starts to behave like a thick tar, flowing outward and also downward. Glacial movement through this internal flow is really slow. Top top average, it procedures only an inch or two (a couple of centimeters) a day. In a valley glacier, ice cream in the upper main part moves faster than ice at the sides, whereby it is in contact with the valley walls. The substantial weight of a valley glacier additionally creates huge pressure at its base, and this press lowers the temperature at which ice melts. A great of water develops in between the glacial ice and also the ground. The water reduces friction by lubricating the floor and allowing the glacier to on slide on that bed.

A sink glacier is capable of eroding and transporting large amounts that sediment. As the glacier moves, its ice cream flows into and also refreezes in fractures in the rock walls and floor that the valley. The glacier then plucks that rocky product away with it, several of which may be boulders the dimension of houses. This


The 150-mile-long Shenandoah valley in northern Virginia . photo REPRODUCED by PERMISSION the THE

product then becomes installed in the ice at the base and along the political parties of the glacier. As the glacier proceeds to move, the embedded material abrades or scrapes the rock surrounding the glacier like a gigantic file.

following an present V-shaped valley, a glacier erodes the valley, deepening and also widening it. That may rise the broad of the sink by as much as tens of mile (kilometers). The glacier likewise flattens the sink floor since ice has tendency to cut down over a more comprehensive area 보다 flowing water. As soon as the glacier ultimately retreats, a special layer the glacial sediment called ground moraine remains, pour it until it is full in any type of irregularities in the sink floor.

Spotlight on well known forms

Napa Valley, California

California's Napa sink is world-renowned for having actually a wide selection of soils and also climate problems that help produce grapes that room made right into quality wines. The narrow valley is 30 mile (48 kilometers) long and 1 to 6 mile (1.6 come 9.6 kilometers) wide. It rectal an area of around 300,000 acres (120,000 hectares).

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

The valley started to kind about 4 million years ago when heat forces beneath Earth's crust in this an ar forced floor on either next of the present-day valley upward right into mountains. Specific areas in between the hills were widened and lowered right into troughs together a result. Napa valley is such an area. After the valley's formation, eruptions from number of volcanoes surrounding the sink blanketed the floor in volcano cinders and also ash that collected to layers hundreds of feet thick.

Shenandoah Valley, Virginia

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

Both mountain ranges are part of the Appalachian hill system, which developed over 300 million years ago. The an effective erosive pressures of water, wind, and also frost have greatly eroded the Appalachians since then. Water runoff has sculpted the mountains' distinctive alternative pattern of ridges and also valleys.

The Shenandoah River, i m sorry runs v the valley, is a tributary the the grape max River. It was the very first of the tributaries in the area to with the soft limestone layer the is now the base of the Shenandoah Valley. Intercepting stream after stream west the the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Shenandoah river grew. Together it did, it sculpted out the Shenandoah Valley, dissolving the limestone and also carrying the sediments north to the Potomac.

Yosemite Valley, California

lied in the Sierra Nevada hills in central California is a 0.5-mile (0.8-kilometer) deep depression. Measure up 7 miles (11 kilometers) long and 1 mile (1.6 kilometers) wide, Yosemite sink lies at the heart of Yosemite nationwide Park, which includes 761,170 acres (304,468 hectares).

The Merced flow runs through the valley. Geologists estimate that a couple of million year ago, it started to carve a valley wherein the contemporary


Yosemite Valley, seven miles long and also one mile across, was formed during six key geologic stages that developed over countless years . photo REPRODUCED by PERMISSION that THE

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Yosemite sink lies. The Sierra Nevada mountains were uplifted and also tilted westward, bring about the flow to gradually, climate rapidly, erode a deep, steep-walled canyon. Around 2 million years ago, north America's climate started to cool and also glaciers began to form. Throughout one that the significant glacial periods, around 700,000 years ago, ice thickness in the area was up to 6,000 feet (1,829 meters). Massive, flow glacial ice resulted in tremendous amounts of rock to be carved and also transported come the area, creating massive rock formations the still exist.

The flow and also retreat the glaciers with Yosemite Valley occurred many times until around 10,000 years ago, as soon as the last major glacial period ended in north America. What remained was a U-shaped valley that was actually deeper 보다 the present-day Yosemite Valley. Rock debris indigenous the glacier had dammed the valley creating old Lake Yosemite, which extended the sink floor. Streams native hanging valleys over fell in towering waterfalls. The tallest of this is Yosemite Falls, which presently fall 2,425 feet (739 meters) to the sink floor. Ultimately, sediment fill in the lake until it formed the existing sink floor.

For much more Information


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

internet Sites

"A Glacier Carves a U-Shaped Valley." U.S. Geological Survey and the nationwide Park company . (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).