An alluvial fan is an accumulation of sediments shaped like a section of a shallow cone, with its apex at a point source of sediments, such as a narrow canyon emerging from an escarpment. They are characteristic of mountainous terrain in arid to semiarid climates, but are also found in more humid environments subject to intense rainfall and in areas of modern glaciation. They range in area from less than 1 square kilometre (0.39 sq mi) to almost 20,000 square kilometres (7,700 sq mi).Alluvial fans typically form where flow emerges from a confined channel and is free to spread out and infiltrate the surface. This reduces the carrying capacity of the flow and results in deposition of sediments. The flow can take the form of infrequent debris flows or one or more ephemeral or perennial streams.Alluvial fans are common in the geologic record, such as in the Triassic basins of eastern North America and the New Red Sandstone of south Devon. Such fan deposits likely contain the largest accumulations of gravel in the geologic record.Some of the largest alluvial fans are found along the Himalaya mountain front on the Indo-Gangetic plain. A shift of the feeder channel (a nodal avulsion) can lead to catastrophic flooding, as occurred on the Kosi River fan in 2008.