A distributary, or a distributary channel, is a stream that branches off and flows away from a main stream channel. Distributaries are a common feature of river deltas. The phenomenon is known as river bifurcation. The opposite of a distributary is a tributary, which flows towards and joins another stream. Distributaries are often found where a stream approaches a lake or an ocean. They can also occur inland, on alluvial fans, or where a tributary stream bifurcates as it nears its confluence with a larger stream. In some cases, a minor distributary can divert so much water from the main channel that it can later become the main route.

Rhine–Meuse–Scheldt delta, with the flow from right to left, showing several streams branching off from their main streams

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This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Distributary, and is written by contributors. Text is available under a CC BY-SA 4.0 International License; additional terms may apply. Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.