1997 Edition


  • James Thorp
Reference work entry


Alluvium (from the Latin word for “flood”) is a more or less stratified deposit of gravel, sand, silt, clay, or other debris, moved by streams from higher to lower ground (Howell et al., 1957). It is usually distinguished by its mode of deposition from lacustrine and marine sediments, deposited, respectively, by the waters of lakes and seas, but the three classes of deposits merge imperceptibly where they meet. In the seventeenth century, the term included all water-laid deposits (Stamp, 1961), but Lyell in 1830 restricted it to material brought down “by rivers, floods, or other causes ....” However, in the mid-nineteenth century, Naumann, the German geologist, applied it to all sediments that were non-eolian. The term “Alluvium” was widely used in Central Europe for the Holocene stage, as distinct from “Diluvium” (Pleistocene).

Land Forms

Alluvial flood plainsreceive new alluvium with each flood, and the coarser sediments usually are more abundant close to the main...

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  1. Howell, J. V., et al., 1957, Glossary of Geology and Related Sciences, p. 8, American Geological Institute, National Academy of Science—National Research Council, Washington, D.C.Google Scholar
  2. Stamp, L. D., 1961, A Glossary of Geographical Terms, London, Longmans, 539pp.Google Scholar
  3. Suggate, R. P., 1963, The fan surfaces of the central Canterbury Plain, New Zealand J. Geol. Geophys., 6, 281–287.Google Scholar
  4. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, 1957, Soil, Yearbook of Agriculture, p. 751, 1957.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Reinhold Book Corporation 1968

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  • James Thorp

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