floods – mammoth // building nothing out of something

Category Archives: floods

de-damming the dutch delta

[The Haringvliet Dam] In recent years, as they seek to rethink the flood control infrastructures and climate defense systems of the Mississippi Delta, American politicians, engineers, planners, and designers have, with good reason, looked to the Netherlands for inspiration and expertise. This is entirely natural, as the Netherlands has long been the world’s most sophisticated […]

IHNC Lake Borgne Surge Barrier

[The site of the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal (IHNC) Lake Borgne Surge Barrier, at the intersection of the Gulf Intercoastal Waterway and the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet; more detail on this Army Corps of Engineers project map.] [Building a bigger wall: the Surge Barrier was the largest design-build project in the history of the Army […]

pump test

[“On Tuesday, May 24, pump number eight at the West Closure Complex was successfully tested. There are a total of 11 pumps at the [Complex], and each can individually fill an olympic-sized swimming pool in less than a minute.” (Source.)] [While most of the Mississippi River flood control infrastructures that we have looked at have […]

the gulf intracoastal waterway

Another of the Mississippi River Delta region’s industrial infrastructures is the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, which stretches 1,109 miles from Apalache Bay, Florida to Brownsville, Texas.  In the image above (which is rotated so that north is on the right, Port Arthur at the top, and New Orleans at the bottom), the Waterway is clearly visible […]

the port of south louisiana

[A map of properties in the Port of South Louisiana (outlined in blue and red), via the Port’s website.] One of the primary ways that the Mississippi River presently serves as an industrial infrastructure is by hosting the Port of South Louisiana. There are several things that make the Port of South Louisiana unique.  First, unlike […]

“the climax of the riverboat era”

Over the course of this summer’s discussion of floods, we’ve talked a great deal about channelization and levees and dredging and the other acts of industrial landscaping that have produced the riverine landscapes of the Mississippi watershed. Those acts, though, are multi-purposed: they are executed to control floods, yes, but they are usually also intended […]

instant island

[As this summer’s flooding swept massive sediment loads down the Mississippi, it also sent much greater volumes than usual pouring through the Corps’ diversion projects.  In the case of the West Bay Sediment Diversion (pictured in our previous post), the Times-Picayune notes, that volume carried enough sediment to construct an instant island: “In a demonstration […]

restoring the land-making machine

[The fluctuating terrain of the lower Mississippi River Delta, from the USGS’s map of “land area change in coastal Louisiana from 1932 to 2010”.  Loss is in red; accumulation is in green.  The map is seen via Free Association Design, where you can see the map in more detail, including the rapidly accreting area of […]

outfall canals

[Lafitte Outfall Canal, one of the three massive concrete slits that drains New Orleans into Lake Pontchartrain in severe rainfall.] [Orleans Canal] [The London Avenue Canal; photograph at I-10 crossing.] [Photographs of New Orleans’ outfall canals, by reader Ramiro Diaz (and supplemented with Google Maps imagery).  Diaz works with Waggonner Ball Architects, a New Orleans-based […]

flooded oil

[One of the negative aspects of resource extraction in an area, such as the Atchafalaya Basin, designed as an outlet for floodwaters is the potential for floodwaters to overwhelm flood controls and widely distribute industrial contaminants used in the extractive process.  In the photos above (taken by the Gulf Restoration Network at the end of […]

the wagonwheel

[The “Wagonwheel”, an unusual circular pattern of canals just south of Yellow Cotton Bay, also owes its pattern to the combination of geology and extractive logistics.  Here, the oil companies’ canals depart from their typically linear vocabulary to follow the roughly circular limit of a raised salt dome.  Salt domes form when buried deposits of […]

pipelines and straight lines

The history of the Atchafalaya Basin — and much of the history of the greater Mississippi Delta region — is marked by an important transition in the 19th century from an agricultural economy (which had developed with the appearance of European settlers, including the Acadians who became the Cajun) to an extractive economy (initially also […]

the atchafalaya basin project and the wax lake delta

[A map of the administrative units of the Atchafalaya Basin Project in 1982, produced by the Army Corps of Engineers.  The Atchafalaya Basin system is made up of three floodways: the Morganza Floodway (fed by the Morganza Spillway), the West Atchafalaya Floodway, and the Lower Atchafalaya Floodway; the latter is composed of the confluence of […]

bayou chene closure project

[During the May 2011 operation of the Morganza Spillway, the Army Corps of Engineers closed one channel within the southern Atchafalaya Basin, Bayou Chene, by dredging the edges of a narrow strait in the Bayou, lining it with rip-rap and sinking a 20,000-ton, 500-foot long barge in the resulting chokepoint.  By stemming the flow down […]

atchafalaya iii: the morgan city floodwall

[The twin Atchafalaya river ports of Morgan City (on the east bank) and Berwick (on the west bank), captured in false-color by the “Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer” on NASA’s Terra earth-imaging satellite, May 27, 2011 — after the second opening of the Morganza Spillway.] Old River Control sits at the northern end […]

william least heat-moon and the infrastructural missouri river

The following is a guest post from Nam Henderson, a long-time mammoth commentator and Archinect contributor.  Nam blogs at Thoughts on Everything Under the Sun or I am a Guilty Secularist, and this post first appeared there.  While I don’t agree with everything the author Nam writes about, William Least Heat-Moon, has to say about […]

atchafalaya ii-c: old river hydraulic sediment response model study

[Video from the Army Corps of Engineers’ “Old River Hydraulic Sediment Response Model Study”, in which a physical model of Old River Control was used to test the distribution of sediment deposition under various flow conditions in the Low Sill and Auxiliary Structures. The testing was prompted by the observation of problematic deposition in the […]

atchafalaya ii-b: the geomorphology of old river

[Image compiled from Army Corps of Engineers diagrams via Wikimedia.] Quoting further from McPhee’s “Atchafalaya”: “…In the Red River, [Shreve] undertook to disassemble a “raft”—uprooted trees by the tens of thousands that were stopping navigation for a hundred and sixty miles. Shreve cleared eighty miles in one year. Meanwhile, at 31 degrees north latitude (about […]

atchafalaya ii: old river control

[The Auxiliary Structure at Old River Control; photographed by the Army Corps of Engineers, Team New Orleans. Various circumstances have conspired to keep me from finishing the Floods series last week like I had hoped; there are still a few posts yet to come, and several of them will be part of this mini-series within […]

willow fascine mattress

[Before the use of articulated concrete mats was standardized, the Army Corps often relied on a variety of other methods of revetment construction.  The weaving and placement of willow fascine mattresses, as seen above, was one such earlier practice; the installation process is remarkably similar to and prefigures the process for concrete mats.  Images via […]