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In geology, a valley or dale is a depression with predominant extent in one direction. A very deep river valley may be called a canyon or gorge.

The terms U-shaped and V-shaped are descriptive terms of geography to characterize the form of valleys. Most valleys belong to one of these two main types or a mixture of them, at least with respect of the cross section of the slopes or hillsides.



A valley in its broadest geographic sense is also known as a dale. A valley through which a river runs may also be referred to as a vale. A small, secluded, and often wooded valley is known as a dell, or in Scotland as a glen. A wide, flat valley through which a river runs is known in Scotland as a strath. A small valley surrounded by mountains is known as a hollow. A deep, narrow valley is known as a coon (also spelled combe or coombe). Similar geological structures, such as canyons, ravines, gorges, gullies, and kloofs, are not usually referred to as valleys.

River valleys

A valley formed by flowing water, or river valley, is usually V-shaped. The exact shape will depend on the characteristics of the stream flowing through it. Rivers with steep gradients, as in mountain ranges, produce steep walls and a narrow bottom. Shallower slopes may produce broader and gentler valleys, but in the lowest stretch of a river, where it approaches its base level, it begins to deposit sediment and the valley bottom becomes a floodplain.

Some broad V examples are:

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