What is the Difference Between Delta and Estuary?

By Shivank Goel|Updated : September 8th, 2022

The difference between delta and estuary has been listed down below;



It is a wetland that was created as a result of rivers depositing silt.

The estuary is a location where fresh river water and seawater combine. A tidal bore creates it.

The Godavari, Cauvery, Krishna, Ganga, Brahmaputra, Mahanadi, and other rivers in India combine to form the delta.

The estuary in India is formed by the rivers Tapti and Narmada.

In alluvial deposits, a delta is a low and triangular area where a river splits before draining into a bigger body of water.

Tides come in and go out at the river's mouth which is shaped like a funnel.

The majority of fishing activities involve deltas.

Agriculture is practiced in estuarine environments.

Delta Vs Estuary

The flow rate of rivers substantially decreases as they approach bodies of water that are still, such as lakes or the ocean. Additionally, silt is deposited as flows slow down. Except for grains that are small enough to remain suspended, almost all sediment transported by a river is thus dumped near the river's mouth. The deposited sediment may be reworked by lacustrine and marine processes and distributed along shorelines.

At the mouths of rivers, deltas developed that transported enough sediment to expand outward. Estuaries, on the other hand, are found where lake or ocean waters overflow into a river valley. Where the sediment carried by the river is collected is the primary distinction between the two. It gathers in the river basin for an estuary and lakeward or seaward of the typical shoreline for deltas. The equilibrium between the flow of sediment and variations in sea/lake level determines whether a particular river-sea/lake interaction is an estuary or a delta.

Deltas need a significant buildup of sediment at the river mouth, which might occur when the river contributes a lot of material, the sea or lake's transport operations are relatively sluggish, and/or the sea or lake level is gradually declining. Each of these scenarios has the river extending more into the body of still water over time. When the sediment supply is limited, large volumes of sediment are carried away from the shore by waves and storms, and/or the sea level or lake level is rising faster than silt is collecting, river valleys flood, forming estuaries.

Similar sedimentary rocks made up of fluvial, shallow marine facies, and shorelines are deposited in deltas and estuaries. The relationships between subenvironments and their vertical order across time, however, differ.

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  • The Ganges Brahmaputra Delta is the biggest delta in the world. It is found in Asia and is formed by the river Ganges and river Brahmaputra when they drain into the Bay of Bengal.

  • The Ganges Brahmaputra Delta is called the Green Delta.

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