Exam-style Questions: River Processes and Management

  1. a) What are the negative impacts human development on a flood plain can cause?

    (4 marks)

    b) Referring to a large named drainage basin, explain how natural processes can change fluvial landforms.

    (12 marks)

    (Marks available: 16)


    Answer outline and marking scheme for question: 1

    a) A short answer question but you still need to demonstrate a knowledge of the characteristics of a flood plain and their value to man. Marks will be awarded for mentioning the following:

    • Flood plain characteristics, for example, low lying, fertile, flat.
    • Provide opportunities for recreation, farming, and development.
    • Negative impacts: buildings can be damaged by floods, possible death / injury to residents, buildings and concrete increase the speed of drainage raising the flood risk and frequency. Increased costs of insurance, bridges will limit river flow, engineering works may be hindered. Mark also allocated for the use of an example to support your answer.

    b) A much longer answer is required here and you should spend approximately 25 marks on this. You will be expected to show your understanding by use of key geographical terms of erosion, for example, (abrasion, attrition). Note the requirement of the question a large drainage basin - your local stream will not do.

    Your answer must include reference to the following and show the links between them in order to gain high marks (over 10):

    • Meanders
    • Braiding
    • Changes to the long profile from source to mouth
    • Upland river features (rapids, v-shaped valleys, interlocking spurs etc.)
    • Lowland river features (bluffs, meanders, braiding, levees)
    • Changes in cross profile

    It is vital that you show you understand how natural processes alter fluvial landforms in your chosen large drainage basin. No reference will limit your answer to a maximum of 8 marks.

    (Total = 16 marks)

  2. a) Describe two processes by which rivers transport material.

    (4 marks)

    b) It is impossible for man to manage rivers effectively. Discuss with reference to at least one river management scheme.

    (12 marks)

    (Marks available: 16)


    Answer outline and marking scheme for question: 2

    a) The question only really needs two full definitions to gain 4 full marks. Do not waste time with explanations they will not be rewarded.

    Naming 2 processes, for example, suspension / traction

    (1 mark)

    1.5 marks per good definition.

    "Traction only occurs when a river is in flood, it is when the largest boulders are rolled along the floor of the river bed."

    b) This question requires you to show that you are able to evaluate evidence and give a balanced well reasoned argument, as to why you agree / disagree with the statement.

    The best answers will draw on 2 contrasting management schemes (success v failure).

    Prior to reaching a conclusion for each you should have addressed:

    • River location
    • Frequency of flooding
    • Amount of flood damage (pre / post management)
    • Reasons for flooding (human and natural)
    • River characteristics (meandering / lateral erosion and examples of nature v man, for example, "In its natural state water can flow freely onto the flood plain whereas artificial levees can squeeze floodwater creating greater possibilities of flooding"
    • Consequences of floods
    • Ways of managing floods (dams)
    • Success and failure of the measures

    At least one mark will be given per point made.

    Diagrams will increase marks.

    (Total = 16 marks)