Landforms: What are the processes that shape land?

Stream Table Investigation

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By creating stream tables, we learn about landforms (shapes of the earth's surface). Examples of landforms include valleys, floodplains, meanders, deltas, and mouths of a stream. A plateau is a flat surface on the earth. For example, the Colorado Plateau is an area of mostly flat rock layers. Most of the rivers are at the bottom of the canyons, many of which flow into the Colorado River. This system of rivers and streams that drains an area is called a drainage basin.

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The 1 liter of water that we run through the stream table's sand plateau is like the water of the Colorado River flowing over the Colorado Plateau. When water runs over the earth and wears it away, that is called erosion. We can see erosion happening to the sand on the beach and by the river. Loose sand and soil erode quickly, while hard rocks and soil protected by tree roots erodes less quickly.

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In running water through the sand plateau, we create canyons and deltas. A canyon is a V-shaped valley eroded by a river or stream. It is an example of erosion (when land is taken away from somewhere), as shown in the diagram above.

A delta is the a triangular area of land formed by sediment that a river deposits. Below is an example of a delta, from the Nile River in Egypt. It is an example of deposition (when land is deposited (added) somewhere).

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Flooding: When there is a flood, the processes of erosion and deposition happens much more quickly.

Example of Flooding: Katrina was the most costly natural disaster in American history.

Erosion From Hurricane Sandy

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Topographic Maps

Topographic maps show elevation (height of land above sea level), landforms, and landmarks. Aerial photographs are images taken from above. We study the topography of Mount Shasta in California, creating our own topographic maps and profiles (side view).

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Mount Shasta Topographic Map

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Profile of Mount Shasta

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Aerial Photograph of Grand Canyon

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Topographic Map of Grand Canyon

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1. Landforms Unit Summary