Respect the Rivers

Jill Boullion, Executive Director of the Bayou Land Conservancy, sent me a link to a fascinating article called Fossil Rivers. It’s about the evolution of the Mississippi River. Even if you’re not a student of geology, the maps are worth looking at as pieces of abstract art. As the author of the article, Geoff Manaugh says, “Colors coil round other colors; abstract shapes knot, circle, and extend like Christmas gift ribbons. This is geology as a subset of Abstract Expressionism: rocky loops of the Earth’s surface in the hands of Jackson Pollock.”

Army Corps map showing the geomorphology of the Lower Mississippi over time.

Says Manaugh, “Indeed, what the Army Corps of Engineers discovered while producing these maps is that the Mississippi River has changed channel completely – and it has done this hundreds, even thousands, of times. In fact, the river’s endless self-alteration still occurs, even as you read these words: the Mississippi, like all rivers, is migratory, destined to wander across the landscape for as long as it continues to flow. It drifts back and forth – sometimes a few feet, sometimes a mile – walled in by its own silt and debris; until there is change: a natural levee fails, or a storm surge bursts into another watercourse nearby, and then the river finds itself on a quick new route to the sea.” 

Powerful reminders to respect the rivers! Give them room. Those who build too close will lose in the long run. People can moan about property rights all they want. But in the end, Mother Nature always wins.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 8/13/2019

714 Days since Hurricane Harvey