base level

noun Geology.
the lowest level to which running water can erode the land.

Origin:
1870–75

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World English Dictionary
base level
 
n
the lowest level to which a land surface can be eroded by streams, which is, ultimately, sea level

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Encyclopedia Britannica
Encyclopedia

base level

in hydrology and geomorphology, limit below which a stream cannot erode. Upon entering a still body of water, a stream's velocity is checked and thus it loses its eroding power; hence, the approximate level of the surface of the still water body is the stream's baselevel. If a stream enters the sea, its baselevel is sea level; this is known as ultimate baselevel. If a stream enters a lake, the lake level acts as a temporary baselevel for all parts of the stream above that elevation. All continental areas tend to be eroded down to ultimate baselevel, or sea level, but uplifting of the Earth's crust and variations in sea level prevent this from happening except in rare, small areas

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
Accreditation still performs a useful function as a proof that a school has reached a base level of competence.
At the base level, what you had was two guys who were turning their lives into a car wreck.
Each school district receives the same percentage increase to the base level amount.
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