Water and River Systems

Practice exam questions written by Timothy H. Heaton,
Professor of Earth Sciences, University of South Dakota

Click the circle by an answer with the mouse, then click on the Submit button to get a response. You will be told if your answer is correct or not and will be given some comments.

  1. What are the four largest water reservoirs on earth in descending order?
    Glaciers, groundwater, oceans, lakes
    Glaciers, oceans, groundwater, lakes
    Glaciers, oceans, lakes, groundwater
    Oceans, glaciers, groundwater, lakes
    Oceans, groundwater, glaciers, lakes

  2. What powers the hydrologic cycle?
    Earthquakes
    Gravity
    Internal heat
    Solar energy
    Wind

  3. What is the release of water into the atmosphere by plants called?
    Evaporation
    Infiltration
    Precipitation
    Runoff
    Transpiration

  4. What is water soaking into the ground called?
    Evaporation
    Infiltration
    Precipitation
    Runoff
    Transpiration

  5. What term refers to the maximum size of particle that a stream can carry?
    Capacity
    Competence
    Discharge
    Load
    Saltation

  6. What term refers to the total amount of material carried by the water of a stream or river?
    Capacity
    Competence
    Discharge
    Load
    Saltation

  7. What is the speed at which particles of sediment fall through a still fluid?
    Discharge
    Laminar flow
    Settling velocity
    Sheet flow
    Turbulent flow

  8. What is the rate of water flow in a river channel?
    Discharge
    Laminar flow
    Settling velocity
    Sheet flow
    Turbulent flow

  9. Where does the maximum water velocity occur in a straight river channel?
    On the bottom near the middle
    On the bottom near the shore
    On the surface near the middle
    On the surface near the shore
    Velocity is usually uniform throughout

  10. Where does the maximum water velocity occur in a meander bend?
    In the middle of the river channel
    On the inside of the bend
    On the outside of the bend

  11. Which feature represents an abandoned river channel?
    Backswamp
    Floodplain
    Natural levee
    Oxbow lake
    Yazoo tributary

  12. What is the border between two drainage basins called?
    Boundary
    Divide
    Range
    Ridge
    River

  13. As stream erosion works its way toward equilibrium in a drainage basin, what is the effect on lakes and waterfalls?
    Both lakes and waterfalls are created by stream erosion.
    Both lakes and waterfalls are destroyed by stream erosion.
    Lakes are created but waterfalls are destroyed by stream erosion.
    Waterfalls are created but lakes are destroyed by stream erosion.

  14. What factor causes a river to be braided?
    High discharge
    High sediment load
    Shallow gradient
    Steep gradient
    Tight channelization

  15. What is often formed when a mountain stream enters a broad valley?
    Alluvial fans
    Deltas
    Drainage basins
    Point bars
    Tributaries

  16. What features are created when rivers enter the ocean?
    Alluvial fans
    Deltas
    Drainage basins
    Point bars
    Tributaries

  17. What drainage pattern is the most common?
    Concentric
    Dendritic
    Radial
    Rectangular
    Trellis

  18. What type of drainage pattern tends develop around volcanoes?
    Concentric
    Dendritic
    Radial
    Rectangular
    Trellis

  19. What is alluvium?
    Any stream-deposited sediment
    Back swamp mud deposits
    Bed load sediments
    Dissolved sediments
    Suspended sediments

  20. Where are distributaries found?
    At river divides
    At river mouths
    In drainage basins
    In floodplains
    In point bar deposits

  21. What type of sediment load is deposited first when a river enters the ocean?
    Bed load
    Dissolved load
    Suspended load

  22. What process leads to entrenched meander bends?
    Deposition
    Headward Erosion
    Infiltration
    Rejuvenation
    Stream piracy

  23. What is the ultimate result of long-term stream erosion?
    A flat topography near sea level
    A rectangular drainage pattern
    Deep U-shaped valleys
    Deep V-shaped valleys
    Extensive lakes

Please report any problems or errors to Dr. Heaton.