On the 1st day of summer, we’ve got an #EarthWord that’s a fan-just not the cooling kind...
USGS EarthWord of the Week
EarthWords is an on-going series in which we shed some light on the complicated, often difficult-to-pronounce language of science. Think of us as your terminology tour-guides, and meet us back here every week for a new word!
The EarthWord: Alluvial Fan
Remember earlier when we covered fluvial? This word’s closely related to it. An alluvial fan happens when a fast-moving mountain stream empties out onto a relatively flat plain. All of the sediment it was carrying falls out as the water slows down.
Alluvial comes from the Latin alluvius, which meant “washed against.”
Use/Significance in the Earth Science Community:
Alluvial fans are part of the natural process of how mountains are eroded into plains. They also play an important role in spreading nutrients around.
USGS has studied alluvial fans in many places, but some of the most striking are in Death Valley National Park.
Next EarthWord: See a flock of birds fall from the sky? There’s an EarthWord for that, and it isn’t “apocalypse”…
Hungry for some science, but you don’t have time for a full-course research plate? Then check out USGS Science Snippets, our snack-sized science series that focuses on the fun, weird, and fascinating stories of USGS science.