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Small lake located in a former meander loop of a river or stream channel. It is generally formed as a river cuts through a meander neck to shorten its course, blocks off the old channel, and then migrates away from the lake. If only one loop is cut off, the lake is crescent-shaped; if more than one loop is cut off, the lake is serpentine (winding). Eventually, oxbow lakes silt up to form marshes and finally meander scars.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on oxbow lake, visit Britannica.com.
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