Difference Between Stream and River

Stream vs River
 

Not many know the difference between stream and river as they consider them as interchangeable. Life on earth is dependent very much on water bodies. Rivers and streams form a major part of water used by mankind in the form of irrigation, food, energy, drinking, and transportation. However, though stream and river may appear to be synonyms, that is not true. But, one must know that, without streams, rivers cannot be formed. There are many differences between a stream and a river that will be discussed in this article so that you can have a better idea about what a stream is and what a river is.

What is a Stream?

Streams are small water bodies existing by themselves but add up when they meet to form a large river. Streams are shallow water bodies. Some of the streams are such that one can easily walk through or pick up an object that he drops accidentally into it. Despite carrying smaller amount of water, streams are very turbulent because of the water falling from great heights. They have great erosion powers and erode sediments that they carry along with them into the river. Streams flow within narrow banks as the waterway is narrow. Sometimes, in some areas of the world, a stream is also known as a creek. This is mainly in North American, Australia, and New Zealand usage. The main reason for that can be the fact that it is a little hard to differentiate between a stream and creek. They are both smaller than rivers and sometimes can be the same. There are different types of streams such as Headwater streams, Year-round Streams, Seasonal Streams, and Rain-dependent Streams. Headwater streams are the beginnings of rivers. Year-round streams are, as the name indicates, the streams that flow throughout the year without a problem. Then, Seasonal streams are the streams that flow only during the time where there is enough water for the stream to flow. Rain-dependent streams have rain as their main source of water supply.

Difference Between Stream and River

Stream in Arkhangelsk Oblast, Russia

What is a River?

A vast majority of rivers originate in hills and mountains or are formed as a result of melting glaciers. Rain water and the melting snow fall down the mountains in the form of multiple streams that meet at a confluence where the water body becomes large and gets transformed into a river. This water forces down because of gravity and finally becomes slow on reaching the ground. Rivers are deeper than streams.River carries the sediments brought into it by streams into larger water bodies such as ocean or a lake.Unlike streams, rivers flow within wider banks. According to the Stream Order Classification of Waterways, something that is between sixth order and twelfth order is considered a river. The world’s largest river, the Amazon river, is of the twelfth order.

Stream vs River

River Biya, Russia

What is the difference between Stream and River?

• Streams are fast flowing water bodies that originate in mountains because of rain water or melting glaciers.

• When two streams meet, the smaller one is called a tributary.

• The place, where many streams meet to form a large water body called river, is referred to as confluence.

• Streams are shallower than rivers.

• Streams are more turbulent and aggressive than rivers.

• Streams erode stones, sculpt the surface of the earth and carry the sediment into rivers that carry all the sediment into oceans and lakes.

• Streams flow within narrow banks while rivers flow within wider banks.

• Both streams and rivers have a current. It is because of this current that objects are dragged away with water if they fall in the water.

• There are different types of streams such as Headwater streams, Year-round Streams, Seasonal Streams, and Rain-dependent Streams.

• According to the Stream Order classification, a waterway that is between sixth order and twelfth order is considered a river.

• Since river is larger than a stream, it carries more debris.

As you can see, the main components that decide whether a waterway is a river or stream is the size. Also, a classic stream is shallower than a river. Though they vary in size, they are both equally important to our survival in this planet.

Images Courtesy: Stream in Arkhangelsk Oblast, Russia and River Biya, Russia via Wikicommons (Public Domain)