Explain the formation of a meander.

Explaining the formation of a meander is a common question at both GCSE and A-Level. The answer given below is for an A-Level response.

Answering this question may also involve drawing a small annotated sketch of a meander as well as a substantial paragraph of explanation.

The formation of a meander can often be explained in a series of key steps (remember that geographical terms are very important here):

1. Due to banks of sediment at the bottom of the river (which are deposited at times of low flow, that is, a low velocity and low discharge, meaning deposition increases), the river weaves around these alternating shallow and deeper sections (riffles and pools) on what was an initially straight channel.

2. This movement targets one bank of the section after the riffle, subsequently leading to erosion (carried out by hydraulic action and abrasion) – this becomes the outside bend of the meander.

3. This leads to the formation of a river cliff on the outside bend. The material eroded further upstream is deposited on the opposite bank (inside bend) on the slip off slope. This is due to a corkscrew movement in the river (helicoidal flow) which results in water levels on the outside of a meander bend to be elevated, giving a faster velocity (the Thalweg line is located here). The deposition on the inside bend gives an asymmetrical cross section of the channel. The Thalweg line is the line of maximum water velocity down the path of the river.

4. Erosion and deposition continues which leads to the meanders becoming more curved. This eventually results in ‘meander migration’ – i.e. these processes shift downstream and are not static in one particular location. 

Robert W. A Level Geography tutor, GCSE Geography tutor, A Level Exte...

2 weeks ago

Answered by Robert, an A Level Geography tutor with MyTutor

Still stuck? Get one-to-one help from a personally interviewed subject specialist


Lowri C. A Level French tutor, IB French tutor, GCSE French tutor, A ...
View profile
£20 /hr

Lowri C.

Degree: Human Geography, French module (Bachelors) - Durham University

Subjects offered: Geography, French+ 2 more

English Literature

“Hi, I'm Lowri, I'm a friendly and motivated second year BA Geography student at Durham University.  I am available to tutor in french, geography and english literature at both GCSE and A-Level standard. I am passionate about these sub...”

MyTutor guarantee

Natalie C. 13 Plus  Geography tutor, GCSE Geography tutor, A Level Ge...
View profile
£20 /hr

Natalie C.

Degree: Geography (Bachelors) - Durham University

Subjects offered: Geography, Politics+ 5 more

Government and Politics
Environmental Studies
-Personal Statements-

“I am a Geography student from Durham University. I have a widespread interest in global processes spanning from the current political situation and climate change to more theoretical discussions on globalisation and equity. I trust I ...”

Andrea P. GCSE Chemistry tutor, A Level Geography tutor, GCSE Biology...
View profile
£22 /hr

Andrea P.

Degree: Geography (Bachelors) - Durham University

Subjects offered: Geography, Chemistry+ 1 more


“About me:I am an undergraduate student studying geography at Durham University. I have a real passion for my subject as well as knowledge in general. That was one of the reasons I choose to study geography since, due to its broad foc...”

About the author

Robert W. A Level Geography tutor, GCSE Geography tutor, A Level Exte...
View profile
£20 /hr

Robert W.

Degree: Geography (Bachelors) - Exeter University

Subjects offered: Geography, Extended Project Qualification

Extended Project Qualification

“About me: I am currently studying Geography at Exeter University. I offer tutoring in Geography (for GCSE and A-Level) and the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ), both of which I gained an A* at A-Level. I have been enthusiastic abo...”

MyTutor guarantee

You may also like...

Posts by Robert

Explain the formation of a meander.

Use one or more examples to explain why people migrate within the European Union.

What is the difference between qualitative and quantitative data?

What makes an outstanding EPQ presentation?

Other A Level Geography questions

What is the development gap? and how is it measured?

How do I choose which short answer questions to answer in the exam (AQA)?

Why is it important to preserve biodiversity in tropical rainforests?

With reference to a named disease of affluence, outline the impact on health, economic development and lifestyle.

View A Level Geography tutors


We use cookies to improve our service. By continuing to use this website, we'll assume that you're OK with this. Dismiss