Wohl, Ellen E. Department of Geosciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado.
Baker, Victor R. Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona.
Last reviewed:November 2019
- Deposits and topography
- Floodplain functions and dynamics
- River terraces
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
The relatively broad and smooth valley floor that is constructed by an active river and periodically covered with water during intervals of flooding. Water chemistry and suspended sediment patterns indicate that floodwaters can come from combined main channel overflow, local ground-water rise, tributary inputs, and precipitation directly onto a saturated floodplain surface. Engineers consider the floodplain to be any part of the valley floor subject to occasional floods that threaten life and property, and commonly designate floodplain zones based on the recurrence interval with which they are flooded (for example, 100-year floodplain). Various channel modifications, from levees and channelization to flow regulation, can be used to restrict the natural flood process. These modifications have altered most of the world's large river-floodplain systems. For example, an estimated 96% of the floodplain ecosystem historically present along the lower Mississippi River has been lost because of levees and channelization. See also: River; River engineering
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