River source

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A stream source

The source of a river or stream is the original point from which the river flows. It may be a lake, a marsh, a spring or a glacier. This is where the stream starts.

The source is the farthest point of the river stream from its estuary or its confluence with another river or stream. Rivers are usually fed by many tributaries. The farthest stream is called the headstream or headwater. There is sometimes disagreement on which source is the headwater, hence on which is the true source. Headwaters are usually in mountains. Glacial headwaters are made by melting glaciers.

The source is where a river begins, and the mouth is where it joins the sea. The source of a river generally discharges water with less force leading to the formation of Interlocking spurs.

The river mouth is not to be confused with the source. The mouth is where the river ends as it meets the ocean, and may have a river delta.