Why Do Rivers Curve?

We’re now on Patreon! Please support us at: http://www.patreon.com/minuteearth

Can you find an oxbow lake in GoogleEarth? Share your findings (pictures or coordinates) on Twitter, Facebook and other social media using the hashtag #oxbowlake

And subscribe! – http://www.youtube.com/user/minuteearth?sub_confirmation=1

Created by Henry Reich
Production and Writing Team: Alex Reich, Peter Reich, Emily Elert, Ever Salazar, Kate Yoshida, and Henry Reich
Narrated by: Emily Elert
Music by Nathaniel Schroeder: http://www.soundcloud.com/drschroeder

“Oxbow” voiceovers by:
Vanessa Hill: https://www.youtube.com/user/braincraftvideo
Ever Salazar: https://www.youtube.com/user/EverST88
Antoine Coeur: https://www.youtube.com/user/MinutePourLaTerre
Free iTunes podcasts of MinuteEarth! – http://podcast.minuteearth.com/
Facebook – http://facebook.com/minuteearth
Twitter – http://twitter.com/MinuteEarth

MinuteEarth provides an energetic and entertaining view of trends in earth’s environment — in just a few minutes!


Ferreira da Silva, A. M. (2006). On why and how do rivers meander.

Howard, A. D. (2009). How to make a meandering river. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106(41), 17245-17246. http://www.pnas.org/content/106/41/17245.full

Howard, A. D., & Knutson, T. R. (1984). Sufficient conditions for river meandering: A simulation approach. Water Resources Research, 20(11), 1659-1667. http://erode.evsc.virginia.edu/papers/howard_meander_84.pdf

Leopold, L. B., & Wolman, M. G. (1960). River meanders. Geological Society of America Bulletin, 71(6), 769-793. https://www.usu.edu/jackschmidt/files/uploads/Fluvial_2013_Labs/Leopold_Wolman_1960.pdf

Parker, H. (1996). River Meandering as Self-Organization Process. Science,271, 1710. http://www.f052.it/watch/927/meandering_river.pdf

Rhoads, B. L., & Welford, M. R. (1991). Initiation of river meandering. Progress in Physical Geography, 15(2), 127-156. http://www.geog.illinois.edu/~brhoads/rhoads%20and%20welford%201991.pdf

Schwenk, Jon. Interview. 9 July 2014.

Seminara, G. (2006). Meanders. Journal of fluid mechanics, 554, 271-297. http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=431272&fileId=S0022112006008925

Stølum, H. H. (1998). Planform geometry and dynamics of meandering rivers.Geological Society of America Bulletin, 110(11), 1485-1498. http://bruche.u-strasbg.fr/pages_protegees/pdf/stolum_1998.pdf

Video and Image Credits

Waterfalls Cascading – Courtesy Shutterstock

Rio cauto Cuba – Public Domain Photo

Tiger Leaping Gorge – Courtesy Shutterstock

River coming from mountain – Google Earth
42°21’35.72″ S 173°34’30.41″ E

Meandering River – Google Earth Engine

Under Water 2 – Ken Mankoff

Oxbow Lake Australia – GoogleEarth
23°41’31.06″ S 150°47’53.91″ E

Oxbow Lake Colombia – GoogleEarth
3°20’18.70″ N  70°07’10.92″ O

Oxbow Lake France – Google Earth
46°55’24.16″ N   5°19’28.34″ E

Dry Oxbow Lake Colorado – Google Earth
32°00’06.80″ N 115°07’19.81″ O

Martian Rivers on Aeolis Planum – NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

Mars Rover Curiosity – Public Domain Image

You may also like...

20 Responses

  1. Lord Random says:

    *Real rivers have curves* 

  2. SilentBudgie says:

    You found evidence of water on Mars from space!? Why didn’t you tell
    someone before we spent so much money on rovers!?

  3. Samimy Productions says:

    ok awesome !
    i don’t know anything about rivers, but for me this video was a nice
    English lesson.
    thanks Minute Earth.

  4. J.P. says:

    science is amazing!

  5. Kam-Yung Soh says:

    *Great video by **+Henry Reich**.*

  6. xXHappYNinjaZXx says:

    woah, Vader is a disturbance? Wrong. He was a balance. Too many light sided
    jedi. Should’ve drawn Yoda or Obi-Wan or Anakin when he was light side.

  7. Joe Martinson says:

    ?! is what the martians call them

  8. empty says:

    You dum dum

  9. zsp33dyG says:

    I got way to attached to that mole family, I got really scared for them
    when the water was moving up =(.

  10. HASEKH HASEKH says:

    I’ve been watching videos ALL day, and this is the only one that wasn’t
    boring, thumbs up!!

  11. Daniel Estrada says:

    Just learned this in my Geography lab! 

  12. misp says:

    In Swedish, oxbow lakes are called korvsjö. literally “sausage lake”.

  13. Shield Elapid says:

    FYI 00111111 00100001 is ?!

  14. Thomas Levy says:


  15. descoladavirus says:

    It’s “starorzecze” not “statorżecże” in Polish. The second one would be
    unpronounceable even for my people. The name stands for “old river”.

  16. NOGOODHOODnz says:

    Well explained! Well done, and thanks!

  17. FutureLaugh says:

    nobody here gives a FUCK about the poor burrowing muskrat and his whole
    family. rip little friend

  18. Modest Mouseketeer says:

    this was awesome!

  19. TheTechyDan says:

    Just saying, the rover’s going “?!” 

  20. any name says:

    God dam muskrats!