Monday, April 16, 2012

Fast water carries sediment while slow water deposits it

A satellite image from September 1999 of the Mississippi river, showing its many channels and many ox-bow lakes. 'Soft riverbanks are continuously eroded. Floods occasionally spread across the wide, shallow valley that flanks the river, and new channels are left behind when the water recedes. This history of change is recorded in the Geological Investigation of the Alluvial Valley of the Lower Mississippi River, published by the Army Corps of Engineers in 1944.'

'The delta switching has occurred every 1,000 years or so in the past. As sediment accumulates in the main channel, the elevation increases, and the channel becomes more shallow and meandering. Eventually the river finds a shorter, steeper descent to the Gulf. In the 1950s, engineers noticed that the river’s present channel was on the verge of shifting westward to the Atchafalaya River, which would have become the new route to the Gulf. Because of the industry and other development that depended on the present river course, the U.S. Congress authorized the construction of the Old River Control Structure to prevent the shift from happening.' - 'Mississippi Meanders', August 31, 2006 Earth Observatory, Nasa

big-mississippi_etm_1999265_lrg More 'aerial slices' of rivers: here and of islands: here

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