Erosional landforms

The process of erosion can create different landforms. The erosional features are often found in the upper course of the river.

Waterfall and gorges

A waterfall is a sudden drop along the river course. It forms when there are horizontal bands of resistant rock (hard rock) positioned over exposed, less resistant rock (soft rock).

A waterfall forms when water falls down hard rock in a steep sided gorge. A plunge pool forms. The overhang erodes and waterfall retreats.
  1. The soft rock is eroded quicker than the hard rock and this creates a step.
  2. As erosion continues, the hard rock is undercut forming an overhang.
  3. Abrasion and hydraulic action erode to create a plunge pool.
  4. Over time this gets bigger, increasing the size of the overhang until the hard rock is no longer supported and it collapses.
  5. This process continues and the waterfall retreats upstream.
  6. A steep-sided valley is left where the waterfall once was. This is called a gorge.

Interlocking spurs

A spur is land jutting out causing a river to meander. Interlocking spurs cause rivers to keep meandering through a V-shaped valley.

In the upper course there is more vertical erosion. The river cuts down into the valley. If there are areas of hard rock which are harder to erode, the river will bend around it. This creates interlocking spurs of land which link together like the teeth of a zip.