Talk:River source

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This article may need to be split into Headwaters and Source (river or stream). Comments of others. Cuvette 04:01, 16 June 2007 (UTC)

If there is no concuurence on split, the article should be renamed "Headwaters" which is the literature term used. No need for the awkward parens when there is a perfectly good term available. Cuvette 19:53, 8 September 2007 (UTC)
Source is the most widespread and the most specific term in geography and hydrology in the context of "river source." Headwaters is generally less specific, plural, and less well defined.
So the title should remain "Source". Headwaters could be a different article, I suppose, but I think having it redirect to here as at present is the most sensible.DLinth (talk) 20:36, 29 January 2008 (UTC)

Terminology question[edit]

If two named rivers, say East River and West River, join and become South River, what is the usual terminology?

Are East and West Rivers the source of South River?

Or are they the headwaters of South River?

Does South River have headwaters at all?

Are the headwaters of East and West Rivers the headwaters of South River? Thank you. Wanderer57 03:27, 20 October 2007 (UTC)


We've had a rename and broadening of definition to include lakes, with no discussion, and no source to support it. I intend to revert unless we get a source real soon now. Dicklyon (talk) 04:14, 29 May 2008 (UTC)

I searched around and could find no definition or example of this usage with respect to lakes, so I reverted all that and moved the page back to it's original name. We can go back if a reliable source is presented here first, but to be polite, an opportunity to discuss a move first would also be appreciated. Dicklyon (talk) 05:08, 29 May 2008 (UTC)

It's common English usage:
  • "...the Owens River, the source of the lake..." [1], publication of the Environmental Protection Agency
  • "...source of the lake is Kao-Ping Creek..." [2], an academic paper (the first five pages are in Chinese, but the hundred-plus pages of the rest of the paper are in English)
  • "...the source of the lake is the Mahandi ss" [3]
  • "Main source of the lake is waterfall Savica" [4]
  • "The source of the lake is Six Mile Creek." [5]
  • "...source of the lake is the Little Red River..." [6]
  • "...water source of the lake is Orontes River..." [7]
  • "...principal source of the lake is the Kissimmee River..." [8]
  • "The lake source is the snow and glaciers, not a river." [9]
  • "The lake's source is the spring-fed Piel Creek..." [10]
  • "The lake's source is from the runoff of Stone Dam Creek, Gold Creek, Palarm Creek, Little Cypress Creek and Panther Creek." [11]
Lowellian (reply) 14:43, 29 May 2008 (UTC)
Thanks for the examples. I don't find these informal uses compelling, in terms of broadening the definition and moving the page. Some discussion is still in order. All the dictionary definition talk of rivers and streams, which is the meaning that this article was about. The informal use of source with other things is off topic, in my opinion. Others? Dicklyon (talk) 15:34, 29 May 2008 (UTC)
I don't at all agree with your characterization of these uses as "informal". I've shown usage within a publication of the Environmental Protection Agency and an academic paper, which are definitely serious and "formal" sources. —Lowellian (reply) 08:00, 30 May 2008 (UTC)
The sources are formal, but the usage is not. There's no dictionary definition that supports this informal use as source as being related to the well-defined "source" of a river or stream. It's a broader definition that you made up. Dicklyon (talk) 15:29, 30 May 2008 (UTC)

Since you still haven't made a move proposal or solicited discussion on it, and since there is opposition (me), I've moved the article back to its original title for now. Make a move proposal if you think the expanded definition is supportable. Dicklyon (talk) 16:37, 30 May 2008 (UTC)

In support of my opposition, note that in books, "source of the river" and "river's source" are common, and almost always used in the sense defined in the article; "source of river" somewhat less consistent, but still similar. On the other hand, "source of the lake" or "lake's source" or "source of lake" is much less common, and is almost always used in a different sense, as in "source of the lake's water", "source of the Lake Superior iron ores", "source of lake supply", "Lake's source",, "the lake's source of water", etc. And there has not been any source cited to back up your definition explicitly, whereas all dictionaries define source of a river. Dicklyon (talk) 16:54, 30 May 2008 (UTC)

I created a new article, inflow (hydrology), to deal with the usage as applied to lakes. I'm willing to leave this article at your preferred title, "source (river or stream)". —Lowellian (reply) 19:33, 30 May 2008 (UTC)
Thanks. I think that's much better. Be sure to add some sources there. Dicklyon (talk) 21:55, 30 May 2008 (UTC)

Reducing overly strong pushing of one definition over others[edit]

This article's wording was overly forceful in pushing the notion of the "utmost headwaters" as the "true" and "official" source--even when the utmost headwaters are ephemeral. I understand that this is one way people determine the source of a river--perhaps most famously in the case of the Amazon River--but it is not the only "authoritative" or "official" definition. I added a USGS definition and reworded a bit. First of all let's drop the repeated use of the word "official". There is no agency, government or otherwise, with the power to force anyone to accept a specific definition of a river's source. The USGS's statements are sometimes said to be "official", but at best it only means they can set a standard of toponymy that the rest of the US federal government is obliged to follow. All others, from non-federal US government to individual people to other countries, can do as they please. So, forget "official". The word "authority" has similar problems. I added a "citation needed" tag to the claim that "all major authorities and atlases" agree that the Nile does not begin at Lake Victoria. This claim, while in the right spirit, it worded both too broadly and too vaguely. What is and what isn't a "major authority" or "major atlas"? How far back in time does this claim go? I'm doubtful there isn't some "major authority" that at some point has said the Nile's source is Lake Victoria. But if some strongly reliable source makes this claim, so be it. Otherwise can we please tone it down? In any case, despite the tone of this article (hopefully now improved), the "source" of a river means different things for different rivers under different circumstances. The Mississippi-Missouri case is the most obvious counter-example to the "utmost possible, perhaps dry drainage basin point" definition. But there are numerous other counter-examples. The USGS's United States Board on Geographic Names, about as "official" as you can get in the US, is quite clear on where the source of any given river is located--usually at a confluence. To be fair, I agree with the usefulness of the "utmost headwater" definition. But I would call this a relatively arcane definition useful within a fairly limited niche of hydrologists and the like. The more common usage, messy and illogical as it can be at times, is at least as important, and is well backed up by reliable sources. Pfly (talk) 08:42, 24 October 2009 (UTC)

The idea that the most distant source defines the main headwaters of a drainage system is not common among hydrologists, too. At a confluence of rivers usually the major average discharge leads to the headstream. I suggest that in articles about rivers and the related drainage system we should mention and describe at least three types of headwaters: 1. by common geographical name (culture), 2. by greatest average discharge at any junction (following upstream), 3. by longest perennial run. Famous example (one of many others): 1. Mississippi, 2. Ohio, 3. Missouri. --WWasser (talk) 08:34, 17 February 2010 (UTC)
Twenty out of twenty atlases published on several continents list the Nile at roughly 6700km and the world's longest river, and thus not originating at the L. Victoria outflow where it would be about 5800 km and the world's 4th or 5th longest river. If one feels that needs a reference, pick any or all of the 20 atlases (Times of London a good one, as it actually says "Source of the Nile" not at the L. Victoria outflow but in Burundi at the Kagera source. But I challenge anyone to find an atlas or authority listing the Nile as the 4th-5th longest river in the world, thus, this is a "universally accepted and widely published" known fact, such as the earth revolves around the sun. (bad ex.?!)
As to the above paragraph, river source is primarily a geographers' term in the context of determining the longest rivers in the world, and is not primarily a hydrologists' term. Hydrologists may want to start their own WP article on "discharge". Volume or discharge is used for numerous purposes, but I've never seen it used for river length or source. (Were it used, then many rivers would be, say, 400 km long in the wet season, but in the dry season 700 km long when a different watercourse has more water.
Ever-changing river volume, and difficulty in measuring volume to determine an annual figure...would we use a median? true avg.?) and the lack of river volume data on every last little tributary needed to determine the source (this article's topic!) are additional reasons why volume is not used for river length-source. A minority of tributaries around the world have volume figures available (much less dry season, rainy season, hi melt-season, etc., all varying widely) whereas river channel lengths don't change and are easily measured by geographers (or anyone) from today's widely-available imagery.DLinth (talk) 18:00, 11 June 2010 (UTC)

Why would Depositing stream redirect here?[edit]

There seems to be nothing about deposition in this article at all, let alone any use of the word "deposit". So I've changed the redirect to Deposition (geology). Am I missing something? 4pq1injbok (talk) 18:04, 4 April 2010 (UTC)

New name[edit]

I apologize if anyone is upset with the move of this article. The formal move process is time consuming, and this article does not receive much traffic, so I decided to just go for it. If you want me to move it back, please ask me to do it on my talk page, not here. I am not crazy about the new name, "river source", but I think it is better than the old name, "source (river or stream)". I would have preferred to go with "stream source", as it is used by geologists to denote a flowing body of water without regard to size, but it does not seem to be used nearly as much as "river source" and it sounds a bit off. I also considered going with "source (stream)". For me, it is better than "river source", but I did not know if it would be accepted by others and I wanted to avoid parentheses if possible. I think that "source (hydrology)" may have been the name of the article previously. It has the advantage of being very inclusive, being shorter than "source (river or stream)" and having the same disambiguation as other hydrological articles, like inflow (hydrology) and quite a few other articles. My favorite option would be to use "headwater", second choice "headwaters", but there were objections to this name in the first section of this talk page. I will put a list of name options below and people can indicate which one they prefer. If there is another name, please add it to the list. I will change it to whatever the consensus is. You could do it voting style and put two asterisks followed by your signature (four tildes in a row) below the name or names that you like. The other option is to state what name or names that you prefer and to explain why. I suppose that you could also put a short message about why you like a particular name in your voting entry, like discussions at Articles for Deletion (AfD). I encourage expressing support for more than one name, as it will be easier to form a consensus. You may want to indicate your order of preference for the names. Please let me know on my talk page if a consensus is formed.

  • Headwater
  • Headwaters
  • River source
  • Source (headwater)
  • Source (hydrology)
  • Source (river or stream)
  • Source (river)
  • Source (stream)
  • Stream source

-- Kjkolb (talk) 09:44, 7 June 2011 (UTC)

Spring as source: Anon edits[edit]

Three ips have added a quote by someone who navigated the Congo as a source for "spring" as a river source. A canoists comments are not a "source" for that claim. The ips have also referred to a biblical verse as a reference for "spring" as a river's source. A bible verse doesn't work as a WP:RS for such a definition - just evidence of usage. Can a "spring" be a river's source? Of course, but a reliable source is needed to define it that way. To the anon, please discuss rather than edit warring. Thanks, Vsmith (talk) 01:00, 14 February 2012 (UTC)

I agree that the Congo quote doesn't really belong here, although certainly headwaters are often springs. A good example might be Mammoth Spring. The "Characteristics of sources" section mentions marshes and glaciers, without any sources cited. That seems like the appropriate place to mention springs, rather than the "Definition" section, which is more abstract or conceptual. Pfly (talk) 10:31, 14 February 2012 (UTC)

Introduction misleading[edit]

Currently the entire introduction reads: The source or headwaters of a river or stream is the place from which the water in the river or stream originates.

This is not correct. Obviously the water in a river or stream could originate from anywhere in the drainage basin. There are a few definitions for "source" but this introduction doesn't match any of them.Ordinary Person (talk) 11:01, 28 February 2012 (UTC)

Well, I've been bold and fixed it. It seems that poor introduction had survived since 2008! It didn't make any kind of physical sense. The water of a particular river could originate from anywhere within the drainage basin. Ordinary Person (talk) 11:42, 28 February 2012 (UTC)
Well done. Nicely worded fix. DLinth (talk) 16:24, 22 March 2012 (UTC)

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