The Mississippi River is among the largest rivers in the USA. Stretching over 2,000 miles lengthy and draining components of 32 states, this river is a big supply of water, energy, transportation, and extra. Most People know that this river ends exterior of New Orleans earlier than flowing into the Gulf of Mexico. Nevertheless, that’s not on the trail the river is meant to be on. Let’s check out the place the Mississippi River ought to actually finish.
The place the Mississippi River Begins and Ends
The Mississippi River begins in Lake Itasca. The headwaters are present in Itasca State Park in Minnesota, some 2,340 miles from the river’s mouth. From there, the Mississippi River flows south, passing by means of ten states on its strategy to Louisiana.
Alongside the way in which, the Mississippi River receives water from main tributaries, together with the Missouri River and the Ohio River. Apparently, the Missouri River is about 100 miles longer than the Mississippi River, and the Ohio River contributes an awesome deal to the Decrease Mississippi River’s discharge charge.
The river continues to move into Louisiana, the place it encounters many water management techniques, together with levees and the Previous River Management Advanced (also called the Previous River Management Construction). The latter is a floodgate system that controls the quantity of water that flows from the Mississippi River into the Atchafalaya River. This complicated primarily prevents the course of the river from altering. Additionally, it accommodates a hydroelectric station.
As soon as the river is previous the Previous River Management Advanced, it flows by means of the western portion of Baton Rouge. Subsequent, it goes by means of the southern a part of New Orleans and out into the Gulf of Mexico. That’s how the river flows now, however that’s not the place the river “needs” to finish.
In different phrases, if the move of the Mississippi River was left to its personal gadgets, it could not observe this path in any respect.
The place the River Ought to Actually Finish
The Mississippi River ought to actually finish within the Atchafalaya River. From there, it ought to move westward in Louisiana and attain the Gulf of Mexico after passing south of Morgan Metropolis. Nevertheless, that would go away Baton Rouge and New Orleans with out their largest supply of contemporary water and destroy their economies.
Thankfully, the Previous River Management Advanced, at the side of the Morganza Spillway and numerous levees, retains the principle channel of the Mississippi River flowing on its present route.
The Mississippi River didn’t all the time move on its present path, although. Rivers naturally change course over time, and the Mississippi is not any exception. In reality, in case you have a look at an older map of the Mississippi River, you’ll see that the physique of water flows considerably in a different way in comparison with as we speak.
As meandering (curving) rivers change instructions round their curves, the move of water erodes the surface banks. Additionally, such a move permits for sediment deposits to type on the within, the place the water is transferring slower relative to the surface.
Over time, this alters the trail of the river the place sediment obstructs the principle channel, and the water flows into a more recent, extra direct path. Meanders separated from their channels turn into oxbow lakes. The method begins once more as soon as the brand new channel is established.
What’s Stopping the Mississippi River from Altering Course?
The Previous River Management Construction was constructed in 1963 after the U.S. Military Corps of Engineers decided that the river might change course earlier than the century was out. The quantity of water flowing from the Mississippi River into the Atchafalaya River was quickly rising.
The U.S. Military Corps of Engineers believed that the river would shortly change channels and go away Baton Rouge and New Orleans in dire straits.
The fashionable Previous River Management Advanced and different water management measures restrict the quantity of water that flows into the Atchafalaya River. Furthermore, the management mechanisms are designed to deal with large quantities of floodwater that would trigger a sudden and really dramatic shift within the river’s path.
Though these strategies have held up to date, they might not achieve this sooner or later.
May the River Change Course within the Future?
The Mississippi River might change course sooner or later. In reality, it almost did change course in 1973. Extreme floods nearly overwhelmed and destroyed the Previous River Management Construction. Had that occurred, the river might have modified course proper then.
One other main flood in 2011 when threatened the integrity of the water management techniques on the Decrease Mississippi River. Thankfully, the techniques labored as deliberate and prevented the worst-case situation from occurring. Nonetheless, the injury brought on by these floods was large.
Some geologists are satisfied that the appropriate set of circumstances might nonetheless overwhelm your entire Previous River Management Advanced. If an enormous flood hits the world, the sort that occurs each few centuries, the river might push into the Atchafalaya Basin and even Lake Pontchartrain!
What Would Occur if the Mississippi River Modified Course?
If the water flowed the place the Mississippi River ought to actually finish, the implications can be dire. Hypothetically, if sufficient of the water from the Mississippi River was captured in different sources, it might devastate beneficial ports, just like the Port of New Orleans.
The lack of water move would additionally make delivery tough and influence the financial system of the world. Nevertheless, two different considerations exist. First, a saltwater incursion into the Mississippi River’s former essential channel would trigger a ingesting water disaster. Some imagine that the water would move as far north as Baton Rouge. Roughly 1.5-2 million folks would want to hunt new sources of freshwater.
Secondly, Morgan Metropolis could possibly be flooded by the sudden deluge of water dashing into the world. Evidently, it behooves the U.S. Military Corps of Engineers to manage the move of water.
The Mississippi River ought to actually finish within the Atchafalaya Basin, however that will be catastrophic. The cities we’ve got constructed and the financial system within the space are indispensable. The unbelievable feats of engineering retaining the river in place might protect the world. Nevertheless, the worst might come to fruition and the river could change course.
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