A river can seem permanent. Go back from year to year and the banks are in the same place and your favorite fishing hole is still there. That’s not the case with the Peru’s Ucayali river, where the soft banks erode and change shape with surprising speed.
This quick GIF animation by sedimentary geologist Zoltan Sylvester uses the Landsat program and Google Earth Engine to whisk us through 28 years of history from 1985 to 2013. We see the Ucayali’s meandering path change while islands form, an oxbow curve transforms into and oxbow lake, and small rivers nearby are swallowed up by its flow.
We see the same changes in the meandering Mississippi river, where its changing course occasionally eats up farmland or even homes built too close to its ever-changing banks.
Learn more at Sylvester’s blog, Hindered Settling.