The water from a river can enter the receiving body in a variety of different ways. The motion of the river mainly depends on the relative density of the river compared to the receiving water and any ambient motion in the receiving water, such as tides or seiches.
If the river water is denser than the surface of the receiving water, the river water will plunge below the surface at the plunge curve. The river water will then either form an underflow or an interflow within the lake.
If the river water is lighter than the receiving water, as is almost the case when fresh river water flows into the saltier sea water, the river water will float along the lake surface as an overflow.
At the mouth of a river, the change in flow condition can cause the river to drop any sediment it is carrying. This sediment deposition can generate a variety of landforms, such as deltas, sand bars, spits, and tie channels.
- Rowland, J. C., W. E. Dietrich, G. Day, and G. Parker (2009), Formation and maintenance of single-thread tie channels entering floodplain lakes: Observations from three diverse river systems, J. Geophys. Res., 114, F02013, doi:10.1029/2008JF001073