Anabranch Landform

Anabranch landforms have 2 main characteristics:

  1. Watercourse leaves main flow of a stream or river
  2. Rejoins later down the stream

Example of an Anabranch Landform:

Talyawalka Anabranch, Darling River, New South Wales, Australia

What is an Anabranch Landform?

An anabranch is a channel of water that leaves a river or stream and then rejoins again further downstream. An anabranch is considered to be part of the river or stream that it comes from. The word “anabranch” is more commonly used in Australia than in other parts of the English speaking world.

How are anabranches formed?

An anabranch can be very small, occurring as water flows along a river shore. Kids sometimes create temporary anabranches as they play on the shore. An anabranch can be nearly half of a river’s flow of water. When there is an island in the river, an anabranch is created as water passes around the island. The smaller channel of water passing the island is an anabranch of the river.

How Long is an Anabranch?

An anabranch can be as short as a few inches. One of the longest is a part of the White Nile River in Sudan and is 150 miles long. The Brazo de Mompox is an anabranch of the Magdalena River in Columbia. It leaves the river and returns again 110 miles downstream.

Are Anabranches Temporary or Permanent?

Some anabranches are temporary. They can happen during periods of heavy rainfall and flooding. Water may leave a river or stream and find its way back. An anabranch of the Darling River in New South Wales is 287 miles long and flows only during wetter months of the year. Other anabranches can be more permanent, such as water that passes around an island in the river. The water may slowly carry away sediment from the island, and the island may disappear after hundreds or thousands of years.

A River Delta Can Have Many Anabranches

A river may separate into many branches, forming a river delta before entering the ocean. An example of this is the Mississippi River Delta in Louisiana. The anabranches of the river delta drain into the ocean, downstream of the Mississippi River.

Famous anabranches:

  • Talyawalka Anabranch, Darling River, New South Wales, Australia
  • Magdalena River, Colombia
  • Bahr el Zeraf, Sudan

Anabranch definition:

An anabranch is an arm of a river which pulls away from the main water course and rejoins at some point downstream.


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