Ashley asked in Science & MathematicsGeography · 7 years ago

# Do rivers split up or join up?

I'm an aspiring author and I'm in the process of world building for my novel. I'm trying to draw in rivers on my mac, I already know they usually start in mountains and always work their way towards the coast. But once the river is formed by the joining of streams is it more common for the rivers to split up into new ones or join together to form one big one? Also, what are some other places you find headwater?

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• Randal
Lv 7
7 years ago

The Missouri River, the longest river in the United States, the Mississippi River, the second longest river in the United States, and Jefferson River combine to form this system at a total length of 3,979 miles (6,352 km). (The Mississippi-Missouri River combined is 3,709 miles or 5,969 km).

The river system begins in Montana at the Red Rocks River, which quickly turns into the Jefferson River. The Jefferson then combines with the Madison and Gallatin Rivers at Three Forks, Montana to form the Missouri River. After winding through North Dakota and South Dakota, the Missouri River forms part of the boundary between South Dakota and Nebraska, and Nebraska and Iowa. Upon reaching Missouri state, the Missouri river joins up with the Mississippi River about 20 miles north of St. Louis. The Illinois River also joins with the Mississippi at this point.

Later, in Cairo, Illinois, the Ohio River joins the Mississippi River. This connection separates the Upper Mississippi and the Lower Mississippi, and doubles the water capacity of the Mississippi. The Arkansas River flows in to the Mississippi River north of Greenville, Mississippi. The final junction with the Mississippi River is the Red River, north of Marksville, Louisiana.

The Mississippi River eventually splits up in to a number of different channels, called distributaries, emptying into the Gulf of Mexico at various points and forming a delta, a triangular shaped alluvial plain composed of silt. About 640,000 cubic feet (18,100 cubic meters) is emptied in to the Gulf every second.

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As yu can see from the referenced website, rivers can join and split.

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• 7 years ago

Mostly rivers join up (in a basin) into a bigger and broader stream. The joining rivers are called 'Tributaries' to the main river. To say 'main river' is easy but at times difficult to assign (as to which is the main river, like in the case of Missouri joining Mississippi). In some cases the conjoined river is given an entirely new name: 'Shatt el Arab' for the conjoined rivers Tigris & Euphrates.

The bigger river that now becomes 'The River' carries a lot of silt when nearing the plains on the coast (before joining the sea) on a gentle gradient where it loses its momentum (speed). It results in its depositing the burden of silt in mid stream that gradually widens. The river at this stage develops a tendency to strike new paths thus splitting up. It ultimately creates a river delta of 'distributaries'. Not all rivers gave deltas of distributaries but some have single streams and called estuaries, chiefly made by marked gradients.

Tributaries join to form a river and distributaries split the river.