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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

WATERSHED, in physical geography, the line separating the headstreams tributary to two different river-systems or basins. Alternative terms are "water-parting" and "divide." The crest of a mountain ridge forms the most clearly marked watershed; in a plain country of gentle slope (e.g. the central plain of Ireland) the watershed is often difficult to trace, as the headwaters of two different river systems may merge in marshes or lakes at the highest levels. In a mountainous country, where two streams, flowing in opposite directions but having their sources adjacent, are both gradually eroding or cutting back the land at their heads, a pass is formed. In such cases, where one stream erodes faster than the other, the stronger may ultimately "behead" the weaker, and "capture" some of its waters, whose flow is diverted from one basin to another.


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Simple English

Watershed is a geographic term about rivers. It is an area of land. All water that falls on the watershed flows into one river. It can flow directly into the river or go through tributaries (smaller rivers that flow into the bigger river) first.

The watershed of a river can be very large. For example, the watershed of the Mississippi River covers more than half of the United States. That means that over half of the United States is drained by the Mississippi and its tributaries.

Related pages

  • Basin (geology)








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