Ox-bow lake. Image credit  airphotona.com

Ox-bow lake. Image credit airphotona.com

ZIMSEC O Level Geography Notes: Ox-bow lakes

  • An oxbow lake is a U-shaped body of water that forms when a wide meander from the main stem of a river is cut off, creating a free-standing body of water.
  • This landform is so named for its distinctive curved shape, resembling the bow pin of an oxbow.

Development of Ox-bow lakes

The formation of an Ox-bow lake

The formation of an Ox-bow lake. Image credit Acegeography.com

  • Ox-bow lakes form when an acute meander leaves a narrow neck separating the two ends of a meander.
  • Active lateral erosion takes place on the outside bends and break through this neck especially during floods.
  • In flood the cut ends are sealed off by deposition and the meaner becomes an ox-bow lake.
  • The banks are steadily raised by depositions resulting tin the river lying above the level of the lake.
  • The lakes gradually lose water as vegetation and sediment fill them up.

To learn more about landforms resulting from river processes go to this page.

To access more topics go to the Geography Notes page.