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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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