Department of Geography and the Environment

Sedimentary effects of floods along the Lower Mississippi

Sun, October 23, 2011
Sedimentary effects of floods along the Lower Mississippi
Flooding along the Lower Mississippi River

Paul Hudson and collaborators were awarded a National Science Foundation RAPID grant to investigate the sedimentary effects of the extreme summer 2011 flood along the Lower Mississippi River, an historic event.  Flood heights (stage) were the highest ever recorded along the lowermost alluvial valley, exceeding even the infamous “great flood of 1927”. Field work was conducted soon after flood waters receded and provided a rare opportunity to document the geomorphic effects of an extreme event on a major fluvial system. Numerous measurements and samples were collected to characterize the sedimentary, hydrologic, and hydraulic effects of the flood. Field work and laboratory analyses are ongoing with project collaborators from Louisiana and Mississippi. The data is being combined with high resolution elevation data and other geomorphic data to examine fundamental controls on overbank processes in the context of the Mississippi River's changing sediment regime and evolution of its embanked floodplain geomorphology.

The study represents a new phase of geomorphic research and this will be extended by examining the late Holocene and historic floodplain sedimentation and channel dynamics along the Lower Mississippi River. The project complements and builds upon years of prior research that examined the morphologic adjustment of the Mississippi River to natural and human impacts utilizing historic hydrographic surveys since the late 1800s. Despite representing one of Earth's largest and most intensively managed fluvial system the Lower Mississippi continues to adjust and evolve, and remains a fascinating venue for geomorphic research.


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  • Department of Geography and the Environment

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