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Find-A-Feature: Meander

A meander is another name for a bend in a river. For this Find-A-Feature challenge, we challenge you to look around you for examples of a meander.

A meander is when water flows in a curvy, bendy path, like a snake. As a river makes its way through an area that is relatively flat, it often develops bends as it erodes its way through the path of least resistance. Once a meander starts, it often becomes more and more exaggerated. Why is this? Water is pushed to the outside of a bend, and erodes the curve further, while water on the inside is slower and deposits sediment. This is why you often see sand bars and beaches on the inside of the curve. Due to erosion on the outside of a bend and deposition on the inside, the shape of a meander changes over time.

Here at USGS, we study how meanders are formed and can even model them to predict how the river may continue to change in the future, to better understand flooding hazards.

Can you find a meander in your area? If you don't see a river, see if you can spot a sidewalk or path that meanders, or watch how a drop of rainwater flows down a slightly sloped surface - does it make a straight or curvy path? Take a photo of a meander and tag us @usgs_yes #findafeature or send it to us at


We'll be watching Instagram and Twitter for some great #findafeature examples and may share them here with the first name or initials of the contributor, and a general location. If you tag us with @USGS_YES you are giving us permission to use your image. Please see the USGS social media sharing policy at: Or, you can e-mail photos to us at and we may share them on this page or on social media. Thanks for participating and for seeing science all around you!