Fuck Yeah Fluid Dynamics

Celebrating the physics of all that flows. Ask a question, submit a post idea or send an email. You can also follow FYFD on Twitter and Google+. FYFD is written by Nicole Sharp, PhD.

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This satellite photo of the Mississippi River south of Memphis, TN shows how the river’s course has changed over time. When a river bends, the water near the outer bank flows faster than the water by the inner bank. This difference in speeds actually creates a vortical secondary flow in the boundary layer of the river that erodes sediment from the outer bank and deposits it on the inner bank. This increases the meander of the river bend. If this continues long enough, the river bend can get pinched off into an oxbow lake, like the ones scattered to either side of the current river path.