A flume is a human-made channel for water, in the form of an open declined gravity chute whose walls are raised above the surrounding terrain, in contrast to a trench or ditch. Flumes are not to be confused with aqueducts, which are built to transport water, rather than transporting materials using flowing water as a flume does. Flumes route water from a diversion dam or weir to a desired materiel collection location. Flumes are usually made up of wood, metal or concrete.
Many flumes took the form of wooden troughs elevated on trestles, often following the natural contours of the land. Originating as a part of a mill race, they were later used in the transportation of logs in the logging industry, known as a log flume. They were also extensively used in hydraulic mining and working placer deposits for gold, tin and other heavy minerals.