When Glen Canyon Dam was opened on the Colorado River in 1966, the dam controlled all water flow and thus the annual flood cycle was eliminated. Floods scour the river bottom, bringing up sediment deposited there. The sediment is left on the shore of the river in the form of sandbars when flood waters recede. Surveys of the river show that sandbars have decreased in size and number since the dam opened.
Erosion is what causes sand bars to build up on the Colorado River. Water starts trickling down into the river from higher elevations, bringing with it sediment and debris. This sediment builds up and when it reaches the river, it gets deposited along the way. The water also breaks down canyon walls (i.e. stone) as the river flows, which carves the canyons. This will also result in sand that gets deposited along the river.
Along with water, weather (storms, wind, freezing temperatures, etc.) can also cause erosion.
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