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A river's "Capacity"

The amount of sediments a river can transport downstream is called its "capacity". Capacity is measured in cubic feet per second. The Mississippi River normally carries 50,000 cubic feet per second. A cubic foot is about the size of a small carry-on suitcase. Imagine 50,000 suitcases going by per second!

At flood stage the Mississippi River carries 200,000 cubic feet per second.

Capacity is related to the discharge, or the volume of water which flows past a point in a certain amount of time. Normally a stream such as the Mississippi carries enormous quantities of the small particles; clay, silt, and sand. A fast mountain stream can move large boulders, but usually only a few at a time.


This is a picture of the Colorado River near Hoover Dam.
Click on image for full size version (128K GIF)
Image from: C. Alexander

Return to the Water Cycle

Rivers Image Archive


A river's "Capacity"

The amount of sediments a river can transport downstream is called its "capacity". Capacity is measured in cubic feet per second. The Mississippi River normally carries 50,000 cubic feet per second. A cubic foot is about the size of a small carry-on suitcase. Imagine 50,000 suitcases going by per second!

At flood stage the Mississippi River carries 200,000 cubic feet per second.

Capacity is related to the discharge, or the volume of water which flows past a point in a certain amount of time. Normally a stream such as the Mississippi carries enormous quantities of the small particles; clay, silt, and sand. A fast mountain stream can move large boulders, but usually only a few at a time.


This is a picture of the Colorado River.
Click on image for full size version (128K GIF)
Image from: C. Alexander

Return to the Water Cycle

Rivers Image Archive


A river's "Capacity"

The amount of sediments a river can carry downstream is called its "capacity".

Normally a stream such as the Mississippi carries a lot of the small particles; clay, silt, and sand. A fast mountain stream can move large boulders, but usually only a few at a time.


This is a picture of the Colorado River.
Click on image for full size version (128K GIF)
Image from: C. Alexander

Return to the Water Cycle

Rivers Image Archive



Last modified February 24, 1998 by the Windows Team

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