mississippi-river – mammoth // building nothing out of something

Tag Archives: mississippi-river

land-making machines

[The Audubon Society’s micro-dredger, the John James, making new land in the Paul J. Rainey Wildlife Sanctuary in South Louisiana. Karen Westphal, Audubon’s Atchafalaya Basin program manager, will be speaking about this participatory micro-dredging project at DredgeFest Louisiana’s symposium, which is this Saturday and Sunday at Loyola University in New Orleans.] Tim Maly and I […]

dredgefest louisiana

Things have been terribly quiet here at mammoth this fall. (Assuming that by “here” we mean “here, on the blog”; they’ve been quite busy if by “here” we mean “here in Ohio and Virginia”, which is where I’ve physically been. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to recap those adventures soon — there’s been quite a […]

sediment trap and release

[The annual sediment release procedure at Xiaolangdi Dam on the Yellow River in Henan province, China. According to the Daily Mail, “this annual operation sees more than 30 million tonnes of silt sent downstream a year, with more than 390 million tonnes shifted this way over the last 13 years”. It is noteworthy, from the perspective […]

petrochemical america

[From the top: diagram by SCAPE of off-shore oil facilities in the Gulf; Richard Misrach’s “Roadside Vegetation and Orion Refining Corporation, Good Hope, Louisiana, 1998” ; diagram by SCAPE of the various chemical products manufactured and refined in “Cancer Alley”. All from Petrochemical America, and visible at a higher resolution in this gallery at the New […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

casting fields

[Map of revetments under the purview of the Army Corps of Engineers’ Team New Orleans, on the Mississippi and Atchafalaya Rivers; image produced by mammoth using data from the Army Corps.] I’ve already talked a fair about the idea that the Mississippi River is, at this point in its history, an artificially-constructed system that should […]

dike field

[A dike field in the Mississippi River near Greenfield, Mississippi; via bing maps.] In the Mississippi River, dike fields are constructed in order to direct the river’s flow to a central channel, scouring it and reducing the need for dredging.  Though their primary purpose is to thus maintain navigability for shipping, dike fields tend, as […]

the mississippi basin model

[The Mississippi River Basin Model today, via Bing Maps.] At Places, Kristi Dykema Cheramie writes about the one of Mississippi flood control’s most fantastical landscapes, the Basin Model — “a 200-acre working hydraulic model [replicating] the Mississippi River and its major tributaries — the Tennessee, Arkansas and Missouri Rivers”, on a small tract of land […]


[Cahokia mounds, photographed by Ira Block for National Geographic; the mound immediately above is “Monk’s Mound”, the largest (ten stories tall) of the Cahokia mounds.] Around a month ago, FASLANYC ran an excellent post that described the Mississippian mound culture as a potential source of inspiration for a reconsidered Louisiana delta urbanism.  In the post, […]

blowing the fuse

[Detonation at the Birds Point inflow crevasse, during the night of 2 May 2011.] As sand boils appeared in Cairo, the swollen rivers continued to rise.  The city was under mandatory evacuation orders, and the flood gauge was expected to reach 63 feet — not high enough to over-top the city’s levees, but high enough […]

project design flood

[The “project design flood” is the maximum flood that the Army Corps of Engineers has engineered the Mississippi River’s flood control structures to accommodate; the image here (via America’s Wetland and Loyola University) shows those flows in cubic feet per second. I’ve been slow to link (though, as promised, the flood blogging is going to pick […]


In NASA Earth Observatory’s latest image of the Mississippi River Valley, floodwaters from this spring’s historic flooding — “the floodwaters have been the highest on record at more than half of the gauges along the [levees] between Missouri and Louisiana” — are receding, and the river crested back on the 31st of May at Morgan […]

cubit’s gap

[Cubit’s Gap, Louisiana] FASLANYC reports on the Mississippi as a “land-making machine”, vividly illustrated by the case of Cubit’s Gap: “…let’s consider the case of Cubit’s Gap, a major subdelta of the [Mississippi].  The gap formed in 1862 after an oyster fisherman (Cubit) and his daughters excavated a small ditch in the natural levee between […]


[A Wal-Mart in Festus, Missouri, photographed on July 9, 1993.  The Great Mississippi and Missouri Floods of 1993 were the most costly in the history of the United States, causing some $15 billion in damages, and inundating vast swathes of North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Michigan, Illinois, and Indiana.  In some […]

red river landing

[Red River Landing, Louisiana] It’s not all that easy, actually, to rank the severity of the 20th century’s great Mississippi floods.  One reason is that Mississippi River flooding is often primarily on the upper Mississippi (1993) or the lower Mississippi (1973, 1983), which makes like-to-like comparison difficult.  Another is that there are so many different […]


[You may recall that our posting on floods began with an image quite like the two above.  That first image was, like these two, a false-color satellite image of the open Morganza Spillway; but where the first image was taken in May, the two above were taken on May 5, 1973 and April 6, 1977 […]