Coastal & Marine Geology InfoBank

Home FACS Activities Atlas Geology School Related Sites More

USGS CMG InfoBank: Drainage

Skip navigational links
Dictionaries: Our Mapping Systems   The USGS and Science Education   USGS Fact Sheets   Topics   Keywords   Data Dictionary   Metadata Dictionary   Computer Terminology   Digital Formats  
InfoBank Terms: Activity ID   activity overview   crew   digital data   formal metadata   lines   metadata   NGDC   port stops   project/theme   region   ship   stations   time   virtual globe   year  
Data Types: bathymetry   biological   geochemical   gravity   ground penetrating radar   imaging   LIDAR   logs   magnetics   metering equipment   navigation   samples   seismic   total station   definitions disclaimer  
Data Formats: ARC coverage   E00   FGDC metadata   gridded/image   imaging   material   scattered/swath   Shapefile   vector/polygon  
Comment: 11:06 - 12:25 (01:19)
Source: Annenberg/CPB Resources - Earth Revealed - 22. Wind, Dust and Deserts
Keywords: "Art Montana", desert, drainage, "drainage pattern", river, Nile, Africa, Niger, "Colorado River", "United States", stream, soil, pond, lake, evaporation, sand, "Mojave Desert", California, "Mojave River", "San Bernardino Mountains", "Soda Lake"

Our transcription: The phenomenon of flash flooding in the desert raises the question of drainage.
Where does all the water go?
Drainage in deserts is characterized by internal drainage, and by this I mean it has a drainage pattern that isn't connected to the regional drainage pattern.
Only the largest rivers in the world: the Nile in North Africa, and the Niger in West Africa, and the Colorado in the southwestern United States persist as they flow through deserts.
For the most part, any river or stream flowing into a desert will sink into the soil and disappear or else collect in a pond or a salt lake.
Generally, deserts streams disappear in desert because of the high rate of evaporation and also because of the unconsolidated nature of the sand and sediment of the floor.
A good example, I think, is the Mojave Desert in California where there's only one stream, that's the Mojave River involved in the drainage pattern.
It rises on the edge of the Mojave in the San Bernardino Mountains, flows out into the Mojave, but for the most part is underground -- there's only three places where in a normal year it surfaces.
In wet years like 1969, '78, '80, and '83, it was above ground most of the way; in fact, it flowed over into Soda Lake and became and honest-to-goodness lake.

Geology School Keywords
Skip footer navigational links

Coastal and Marine Science Centers:  Pacific   St. Petersburg   Woods Hole  
InfoBank   Coastal and Marine Geology Program   Geologic Information   Ask-A-Geologist   USGS Disclaimer  

Accessibility FOIA Privacy Policies and Notices

Take Pride in America logo logo U.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
Page Contact Information: InfoBank staff
Page Last Modified: Thu Oct 31 04:27:39 PDT 2013  (chd)