Encyclopedia of Natural Hazards

2013 Edition
| Editors: Peter T. Bobrowsky


Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-4399-4_217


Dike (dyke); Embankment


Levee an embankment produced naturally by river sedimentation or constructed by humans to prevent flooding.

Natural levees

Natural levees are ridges formed by overbank flooding, which deposits sand and silt-size sediments adjacent to the river channel (Brierley et al., 1997). In low-lying areas, natural levees are the highest topographic features and thus were preferential locations for both prehistoric and more recent settlement (Hudson, 2005).

Artificial levees

Artificial levees are often built upon natural levees for purposes of flood protection and damage reduction. They are generally built from sediment, and may be reinforced with concrete, rock, and/or vegetation. Artificial levee construction dates back thousands of years in the valleys of the Indus and Nile rivers, Mesopotamia, and China. By confining the flow of the river, artificial levees produce higher water levels and velocities (see Zong and Chen, 2000). If levees are set back...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Brierley, G. J., Ferguson, R. J., and Woolfe, K. J., 1997. What is a fluvial levee? Sedimentary Geology, 114, 1–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Hudson, P. F., 2005. Natural levees. In Trimble, S. (ed.), Encyclopedia of Water Science. Boca Raton: Taylor & Francis.Google Scholar
  3. Zong, Y., and Chen, X., 2000. The 1998 flood on the Yangtze. Natural Hazards, 22, 165–184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeographyUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA