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I may be answering my own questions here but does a river reach its own bed and then stay there? What is to stop it from delving further in to the ground? Why do the sides and bottom of a river not get more eroded?
Is it to do with the lack of friction of the water against the sides and also the velocity of the water?
 

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I think the question might be: Why do you believe that rivers don't erode their banks and bed?

They certainly do. In particular rivers where the effect is more pronounced because of the nature of the ground and of the flow, the course of the river changes from season to season.

Also, look up 'Ox-bow lake' and you should find a video of how one is formed, which is by exactly this process.
 

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But an ox-bow lake is erosion in to the side of the bank until such time as the water finds its natural course (that of the least resistance) whereas a the bed of a river is settled and does not appear to erode as much. Why aren't the beds of the rivers Test, Thames and Tay, 60 feet (or more) below the level of the sides of the bank(s)?
 
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