A pictorial guide to the River Thames

The Thames Basin

Drainage basins
Tributaries bring water to the river from a wide area of land. The area of land which supplies a river with water is called its drainage basin or catchment area.

The Thames basin is the name of the area surrounding the River Thames. Any rain falling on it ends up in the Thames, which takes it to the sea.

The Thames basin covers an area of approximately 12,935 square kilometres (4,994 square miles). 13 million people live in the basin, 7 million of which live in London.

The Thames basin receives an average of 690 mm rainfall per year, making it one of the driest parts of the UK.

Approximately two-thirds of the basin is permeable (allows water to soak through), consisting of chalk, middle Jurassic limestones, and river gravels. The remaining third of the basin consists mainly of low permeability strata, such as clay; here, surface water runs off directly into watercourses (streams and rivers).

The yellow area below shows the Thames's drainage basin
- the area drained by the Thames and its tributaries.

The Thames basin may be divided between the non-tidal and tidal sections:

Did you know?

The Amazon basin is seven hundred times bigger than the Thames basin.

Start of Voyage down the Thames Contents Page Introduction
Facts about the Thames Flooding Thames Basin
Pollution Erosion Tributaries
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I teach computers at The Granville School and St. John's Primary School in Sevenoaks Kent.