River waters simply meeting is one thing, but when those bodies of water display distinguishing colors from one other without mixing, it can create some truly astounding environmental displays.
When two or more bodies of water meet, like rivers, it’s called a confluence. This occurs when two streams join to become one river or, as in the examples below, when a tributary joins a larger river.
As you can see in these stunning pictures, confluences take place all over the world and create some beautiful scenery with the distinct colors they display. These color differences are determined by what debris, silt, vegetation or chemicals the water caries, which clearly contrast the river they join into.
But don’t take my word for it, go ahead and take a look at some of these amazing confluences from all around the globe.
1. Confluence of the Thompson and Fraser Rivers (Lytton, BC, Canada)
The Thompson River is the 3rd largest river of British Columbia and is characterized by powerful rapids and beautiful canyons. It’s the clearer of the two rivers, as the Fraser River, which happens to be the longest river in Canada, is full of large amounts of sediment that give it a muddier look..
2. Confluence of the Green and Colorado Rivers (Canyonlands National Park, UT, USA)
The Colorado River is a very long body of water that flows through 7 US states. It’s known for its canyons and rapids and has a clearer color than the Green River, which carries a much larger load of silt. The two rivers meet in Canyonlands National Park in Utah.
3. Confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers (Cairo, IL, USA)
The Mississippi River is the 4th largest and 10th longest river in the world, spanning from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico. It carries less sediment than the Ohio River, giving it a greener tinge. The Ohio River is the largest tributary of the Mississippi and contains high levels of sediment, turning it a brown color. When the two rivers meet, directly below Cairo, IL, the Ohio River is actually larger than the Mississippi.
4. Confluence of Alaknanda and Bhagirathi Rivers (Devprayag, India)
Both the Alaknanda and Bhagirathi Rivers are Himalayan rivers that are of significant importance to Hindu culture and history. They are both major rivers of Northern India, and the Alaknanda travels 118 miles through the Alaknanda Valley before meeting the dam filled and turbulent Bhagirathi River in Deyprayag.
5. Confluence of the Rio Negro and the Rio Solimoes (near Manaus, Brazil)
The Rio Negro, meaning Black River in Spanish, is the largest left tribute of the Amazon River and the largest black water river in the world. Despite its name, the Rio Negro is not technically black, but does harbor a very dark color. When it meets the Rio Solimoes, which is the name given to the upper stretches of the Amazon River in Brazil, the two rivers meet side by side without mixing. There certainly is a stark contrast between the deep colored Rio Negro and the sandy hued Amazon River.
6. Confluence of the Jialing and Yangtze Rivers (Chongqing, China)
The Jialing River of China is a very sinuous and winding body of water. It supports plenty of fish life and is distinguished be clear colored water, much cleaner than the Yangtze River of which it feeds into. The Yangtze River is the longest river in Asia and is very culturally and historically important to the country. Unfortunately, its suffered industrial pollution in recent years, which is what gives it its brown color.
7. Confluence of the Mosel and Rhine Rivers (Koblenz, Germany)
The Mosel River flows through France, Luxemburg, and Germany, eventually meeting with the Rhine River in Koblenz. The Rhine River, beginning its course in the Swiss Alps, flows throughout a good portion of Europe and has a history of being used for navigation and defense.
8. Confluence of the Drava and Danuve Rivers (near Osijek, Croatia)
The Danuve River is Europe’s 2nd longest river and passes through or touches the borders of 10 countries. It starts in Germany and eventually empties out into the Black Sea. The Drava River makes it course through Italy, Austria, Slovenia, and Croatia before meeting with with the Danuve near Osijek.
9. Confluence of the Ilz, Danube, and Inn Rivers (Passau, Germany)
Three rivers confluence in Passau, Germany: the Ilz, Danube, and the Inn, all with their own distinct coloring. The Ilz River is a smaller mountain stream, running through the Bavarian forest before meeting with the 2 other rivers. It has a bluer color than the Danube and Inn Rivers, the later of which runs through Switzerland, Austria, and Germany.
10. Confluence of the Rhone and Arve Rivers (Geneva, Switzerland)
The Rhone is one of the 3 major European rivers and runs through France and the Swiss Alps. It has a much bluer color than the Rhone, the two of which meet in Geneva. The Arve River also flows through France and Switzerland, but it receives its water from glaciers of the Chamoniz Valley, which gives it a high silt content and muddy-looking color.
11. The meeting of two oceans in The Gulf of Alaska
While technically not a confluence of two separate bodies of water, The Gulf of Alaska sometimes contains these stunning color variations. The gulf contains different slow moving currents, or eddies, which harbor distinct sediments, one with a higher amount of heavier clay material that contains iron and changes the appearance of the water. When the two currents meet, there’s a clear color difference between them, but they do eventually mix.