Difference Wiki

Aggradation vs. Degradation: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on December 27, 2023
Aggradation is the process of building up land by sediment accumulation, whereas degradation involves the breakdown or erosion of land and materials.

Key Differences

Aggradation refers to the geological process where sediment is deposited, building up land or river beds, contrasting with degradation, which is the process of wearing down or eroding land and materials.
In river systems, aggradation can occur when the water's carrying capacity decreases, leading to sediment deposition, whereas degradation in rivers involves the erosion and deepening of river beds.
Aggradation often results from natural processes such as flooding, which deposits sediment, while degradation can result from both natural processes like weathering and human activities such as deforestation.
Aggradation can lead to the formation of new landforms, such as deltas or alluvial fans, whereas degradation often results in loss of soil fertility, landscape changes, and environmental degradation.
Aggradation is crucial in certain ecosystems for maintaining habitats, in contrast to degradation, which can lead to habitat loss and reduced biodiversity.

Comparison Chart


Build-up of land through sedimentation
Breakdown or erosion of land and materials

River Systems

Sediment deposition, riverbed buildup
Erosion and riverbed deepening

Results from

Natural processes like flooding
Natural processes and human activities

Effects on Landforms

Formation of new landforms
Loss of soil fertility, landscape change

Environmental Impact

Can create habitats
Often leads to habitat loss, biodiversity reduction

Aggradation and Degradation Definitions


Geological increase in land elevation.
Aggradation formed new river banks.


Loss of land's ecological value.
Deforestation led to severe land degradation.


Building up of land by sediment.
River flooding caused aggradation of the delta.


Breakdown of materials over time.
Environmental factors accelerated the building's degradation.


Deposition of sediments in water bodies.
The lake's aggradation altered its depth.


Deterioration of environmental quality.
Industrial pollution caused degradation of the river.


Natural process of land formation.
Aggradation contributed to the marsh's expansion.


Wearing down of land by erosion.
Soil degradation affected the farm's productivity.


Accumulation of geological material.
Glacial movements led to aggradation in the valley.


Reduction in the health of an ecosystem.
Overgrazing resulted in grassland degradation.


To fill and raise the level of (the bed of a stream) by deposition of sediment.


The act or process of degrading.


(geology) Increase in land elevation due to the deposition of sediment.


The state of being degraded; degeneration.


Can human activities cause aggradation?

Yes, activities like dam construction and deforestation can accelerate aggradation.

Is aggradation beneficial or harmful?

It can be beneficial for land formation, but excessive aggradation can lead to issues like reduced waterway depth.

What are common examples of aggradation?

River deltas and beaches expanding due to sediment deposition.

How does aggradation occur naturally?

It occurs naturally through the accumulation of sediment transported by rivers, wind, or glaciers.

How does vegetation impact aggradation?

Vegetation can trap sediment, promoting aggradation.

Can aggradation lead to flooding?

Yes, if it raises riverbeds, reducing channel capacity and leading to overbank flooding.

What are common types of environmental degradation?

Soil erosion, deforestation, air and water pollution, and loss of biodiversity.

How is aggradation measured?

It’s measured using sedimentation surveys, topographic maps, and satellite imagery.

Can degradation be reversed?

In some cases, through restoration efforts and sustainable practices.

What is aggradation?

Aggradation is the process of increasing land elevation due to the deposition of sediment.

What is the difference between aggradation and accretion?

Accretion is a broader term for any increase in land mass, while aggradation specifically refers to sediment build-up.

What is degradation?

Degradation refers to the process of something deteriorating or being reduced in quality, value, or extent.

What is the global impact of environmental degradation?

It leads to climate change, loss of habitats, health issues, and economic losses.

How is degradation different from decay?

Degradation refers to a decline in condition, while decay specifically implies organic decomposition.

What is land degradation?

Land degradation is the decline in land quality caused by misuse, typically from agricultural practices.

Can technological advances reduce degradation?

Yes, through cleaner, more efficient processes and better waste management.

What role does aggradation play in ecosystem formation?

It can create new habitats and alter existing ecosystems, affecting biodiversity.

How does human activity contribute to degradation?

Through practices like overfarming, industrial pollution, deforestation, and unsustainable resource use.

What role does degradation play in the ecosystem?

It disrupts ecosystems, affecting species survival, climate, and natural processes.

What are the social implications of degradation?

It can lead to resource scarcity, health problems, displacement of people, and economic challenges.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

Trending Comparisons

Popular Comparisons

New Comparisons