What is the Difference between Catchment Area and River Basin?

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 9th, 2023

The difference between Catchment Area and River Basin can be understood in the way river water gets collected and drained. A catchment area is a specific area where water collects before being drained by the river. A river basin is a drainage basin into which a river and its tributaries drain all of its water. A river basin is made up of multiple watersheds.

Difference between Catchment Area and River Basin

The major differences between River Basin and Catchment Area are presented in the table given below:

Catchment Area River Basin
A catchment area in human geography is where a location, such as a city, service, or institution, draws a population that uses its services and economic opportunities. A depression or dip in the surface of the Earth is known as a basin. Basins have sides that are higher than the bottom and a bowl-like shape.
Catchment areas can be defined based on where people naturally gravitate to a location (for example, labor catchment area) or by governments or organizations for the provision of services. They may resemble the sink or tub in your own bathroom and come in an oval or circular shape. Some of them contain liquid. Some are vacant.
Catchment areas are frequently defined by governments and community service organizations for planning and public safety purposes, such as fire departments, police departments, ambulance bases, and hospitals. Basins are created by forces both above and below the ground, such as erosion (like earthquakes). They may develop slowly over many years or almost instantly.
A catchment area is a term used in business to describe the area from which a retail location draws its customers. River drainage basins, structural basins, and ocean basins are the three main categories of basins.

Catchment Area vs River Basin

A river drains the water collected from a particular area called the ‘catchment area’, and the area drained by a river and its tributaries are called a river basin or a drainage basin.

  • The small area that separates one drainage basin from another is called a ‘watershed‘.
  • A river basin can be called a formation of several watersheds.
  • Although watersheds are smaller in the area and river basins cover larger areas.

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