Anabranch

Anabranch

[an-uh-branch, -brahnch]
An anabranch is a section of a river or stream that diverts from the main watercourse channel (or mainstem) and rejoins the mainstem downstream.

In the simplest case, an island or rock in the river creates a main course and an anabranch course; a more significant anabranch would diverge for a distance of several kilometres before rejoining.

River deltas branch into large numbers of courses, though these are not normally regarded as anabranches, as the net result is usually multiple discharge points rather than a rejoined unified flow.

Word usage and related terms

The term anabranch, in its hydrological meaning, is rarely used outside of Australia.

Elsewhere, terms distributary, or more colloquially arm or channel may be used for subsidiary streams that branch from the main stream; however, unlike the more specific anabranch, these terms (especially distributary and arm) do not necessarily imply that the branch will rejoin the main course later downstream. In the United States, the term braided river describes watercourses which are divided by small islands, but the term does not cover extended separation.

Examples

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