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Somme
Somme.JPG
The Somme.
Origin Picardie
Mouth English Channel
50°13′16″N 1°34′0″E / 50.22111°N 1.566667°E / 50.22111; 1.566667 (English Channel-Somme)Coordinates: 50°13′16″N 1°34′0″E / 50.22111°N 1.566667°E / 50.22111; 1.566667 (English Channel-Somme)
Basin countries France
Length 245 km
Source elevation 85 m
Avg. discharge 35 m³/s
Basin area ±6,000 km²

The Somme is a river in Picardy, northern France. The name Somme comes from a Celtic word meaning tranquility. The department Somme was named after this river.

The river is 245 km long, from its source in the high ground of the former Forest of Arrouaise at Fonsommes near Saint-Quentin, to the Bay of the Somme, in the English Channel. It lies in the geological syncline which also forms the Solent. This gives it a fairly constant and gentle gradient.

Contents

Historical events

Départements and towns along the river

The estuary, on the English Channel is now much smaller than it was but is still extensive.

Main tributaries

  • Right bank
  1. Omignon
  2. Hallue
  3. Nièvre
  4. Scardon
  • Left bank
  1. Avre
  2. Selle
  3. Saint-Landon
  4. Airaine
  5. Ambroise
  6. Ancre

Hydrology

The river is characterized by a very gentle gradient and a steady flow. The valley is more or less steep-sided but its bottom is flat with fens and pools. These characteristics of steady flow and flooded valley bottom arise from the river's being fed by the ground water in the chalk basin in which it lies. At earlier, colder times, from the Günz to the Würm (Beestonian or Nebraskan to Devensian or Wisconsinian) the river has cut down into the Cretaceous geology to a level below the modern water table. The valley bottom has now therefore, filled with water which, in turn, has filled with fen. This picture, of the source of the Somme in 1986, shows it when the water table had fallen below the surface of the chalk in which the aquifer lies. Here, the flow of water had been sufficient to keep the fen from forming.

This satellite photograph shows the fenny valley crossing the chalk to the sea on the left. The sinuous length at the centre of the picture lies downstream from Péronne.

One of the fens, the Marais de l'Île is a nature reserve in the town of St.Quentin. The traditional market gardens of Amiens, the Hortillonages are on this sort of land but drained. Once exploited for peat cutting, the fen is now used for fishing and shooting.

The construction of the Canal de la Somme began in 1770 and reached completion in 1843. It is 156 km long, beginning at St.Simon and opening into the Bay of the Somme. From St.Simon to Froissy (near Bray sur Somme, south of Albert), the canal is alongside the river. Thence to the sea, the river is partly river and partly navigation. From Abbeville, it is diverted through the silted, former estuary, to Saint-Valéry-sur-Somme, where the maritime canal, once called the canal du Duc d'Angoulême enters the English Channel.

An example of the lakes formed in the fen of the valley bottom. They attract wildfowlers and anglers.

The St.Quentin Canal, famous for the 1918 battle, links the Somme to northern France and Belgium and southward to the Oise. The Canal du Nord also links the Somme to the Oise, at Noyon, thence to Paris.

In 2001, the Somme valley was affected by particularly high floods, which were in large part due to a rise in the water table of the surrounding land.

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Flow-rate data (external links)

Monthly flow rates (mean over 43 years)

Catchment area 5560 km².

Daily flow rates compared with mean rates for the time of year at Hangest-sur-Somme (m³/s)

Catchment area 4835 km².

  • for the year -

1993.1994. 1995. 1996. 1997. 1998. 1999. 2000.2001.2002.2003.2004.2005.

Mean flow rates monthly and daily at Péronne (m³/s)

Catchment area 1294 km².

  • for the year -

1986.1987.1988.1989.1990.1991.1992.1993.1994.1995.1996.1997.1998.1999.2000.2001.2002.2003.2004.2005.

The Marquenterre bird sanctuary at the mouth of the river.

References

  • Delattre, Ch., Mériaux, E. and Waterlot, M. Guides Géologiques Régionaux: Région du Nord, Flandre Artois Boulonnais Picardie (1973)

External links


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