Research Paper Sample on Mississippi River

Published: 2022-08-23
Research Paper Sample on Mississippi River
Type of paper:  Research paper
Categories:  Geography
Pages: 8
Wordcount: 1927 words
17 min read

The Mississippi River is one of the key river structures in the world concerning environmental variety, size, and biological efficiency. It is also one of the most significant commercial waterways in the world and one of North America's great migration routes for fishes and birds. The river was home to Native Americans who lived along its banks and used it for transportation and nourishment. The Mississippi River was also a tour place for the early European travelers. They would visit the central and northern zones of what is now the United States. Currently, the river is a vital aspect of the upper Midwest economy. The paper will analyze the Mississippi River and how it changed over time.

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The Mississippi River is a vibrant and varying river whose sequence has transformed various times and has been perceived to continue shifting its path another time. Several factors have been attributed to the changes in courses of the Mississippi River. One of the significant factors is energy. The river is curvy and well known to be meandering. The rate of flow is usually different between the interior and exterior of the meander when water flows through every meander. The water on the exterior of a meander has more expanse to travel and as such, flows quickly than the water in the interior. The energy changes lead to area erosion and deposition in every meander (Madrigal). Moreover, along the exterior of the meander where there is water moving at a advanced speed, the riverbed banks are cut away. For the meantime, the slower degree of movement on the interior of the river curve paves the way for sediments being transported in the water to settle out and be dumped. As such, this paves the way for the development of meanders and alterations in the river contour ("Course Changes Of The Mississippi River - Vicksburg National Military Park (U.S. National Park Service)").

Once the silt and residue obstruct the main canal of the river, it will intensify and eventually change passages. As such, it will find a path that is sharper and straighter in its way to the Gulf of Mexico and the phase will begin again. The meanders that had been cut from the rest of the river structure develops lakes referred to as oxbow lakes or unrestricted meanders. Most of these features offer a vital habitat for swampland wildlife.

Large and small changes have been experienced on Mississippi River and over its main course. Besides, there have been flourishes, omissions and other modifications among its several streams. The lower Mississippi River has further utilized dissimilar trails as its primary channel heading to the Gulf of Mexico and traversing through the delta area (O'Brien).

A natural procedure referred to as delta switching or avulsion has seen the lower Mississippi River changing its ultimate passage to the opening of the Gulf of Mexico after an estimated one thousand years. The process happens due to the silt deposits and residue that begin to obstruct its canal leading to the river raising its level and ultimately locating a sharper and straighter trail to the Gulf of Mexico. Distributaries that have been uninhibited then decrease in capacity leading to the formation of swamplands. The process has been depicted to have led to the advancement of the coastline of south Louisiana toward the Gulf and covered a distance of between twenty-five to eighty kilometers ("Course Changes Of The Mississippi River - Vicksburg National Military Park (U.S. National Park Service)").

Prehistoric courses have further been observed to have led to the changes in the Mississippi River over time. The Laurentide Ice Sheet of the most modern Ice Ag is what shaped the current Mississippi River The glaciation was quite enormous and had a southernmost magnitude which extended to the existing Mississippi Basin and the United States. Once the ice sheet began to retreat, there was the deposition of hundreds of feet of rich residue that led to the creation of the horizontal and productive scenery of the Mississippi Valley. When melting occurred, the giant glacial rivers met the drainage paths into the Mississippi watershed leading to the formation of features like James River and Minnesota River. The whole retreating of the ice sheet resulted in most of the temporary rivers formed finding their paths to either the Arctic Ocean or Hudson Bay. As such, the Mississippi Basin was left with various features being significant for the prevailing rivers to have carved in at the same time (Madrigal).

Earthquakes occurred in 1811 and 1812 leading to the rise of the soil beneath the Mississippi River which made it change its course temporarily and flowed backward. The earthquakes further led to structural damage around the Mississippi River. Also, there were bank failures along the Mississippi River as large territories of land subsided in the Mississippi River mudflat ("Science Of The New Madrid Seismic Zone").

After the occurrence of the Hurricane Katrina, arguments arose on the human management of the Mississippi River. As such, another change of this river was also observed. The river carried some sediment that were offset at the area's sinking or even sunk to a lower altitude. However, the location of the dams halted the sediment deposition and led to the loss of wetlands (Klein and Zellmer 13).

The Mississippi River has also changed due to its control structure. The construction of businesses and cities has resulted in the river not being able to move down to the Gulf of Mexico up to the river bed of Atchafalaya. The river's natural path is blocked and the water diverted into the Mississippi. It has been observed to occur at the Old River, which is the former Mississippi tributary (Madrigal).

On the other hand, there have also been historic course changes to the Mississippi River. In 1876, the Mississippi River altered progression near the Reverie settlement and left a minor share of Tipton County close to Arkansas. There was also separation from the rest of Tennessee by the new river waterway. The event was an avulsion and not due to the impact of an increase of erosion and deposition. As such, the state line has been observed to still follow the old channel ("Course Changes Of The Mississippi River - Vicksburg National Military Park (U.S. National Park Service)").

Furthermore, there was a major flood in 1881 that resulted in the Mississippi River overtaking the Kaskaskia River. As a result, it formed a new Mississippi channel and cut off the town from the rest of the state. Flooding occurred later leading to the destruction of the remaining city (O'Brien).

It has been observed that there is a need to control the Mississippi River. Human efforts to control the river have served various political and economic needs. Control of the river is mainly required due to the high prospect of flooding. Due to recurrent flooding, the Mississippi Delta has been made efficient for undertaking various agricultural forms since the silty flood waters refertilized the soil with additional nutrients. However, the flooding demolished apparatus, buildings, and crops as well as killing people and livestock (Alexander, Wilson, and Green).

On the other hand, when a river meanders, it raises problems for people who own land along the river. The changing of the course by the Mississippi River depicts that waterside property can be transformed into landlocked over a large extent or even some miles inland. As such, the unpredictable behavior of the Mississippi River has resulted in the destruction of property values and the capability of proprietors to handle their plantations and farms (Alexander, Wilson, and Green).

One of the major changes to the course of Mississippi River was the one at Vicksburg area that occurred in 1876. A canal was being built to bypass Vicksburg, but this was later attained when the Mississippi River altered its course. As such, the alteration led to the achievement of what could not be achieved by the relevant authorities. When there was a war between the States and the Campaign and Siege of Vicksburg, the Mississippi River headed to the east toward the high loess cliffs near Vicksburg. Before it reached the headland near where the Isle of Capri Casino now floats, the river then took a right angle turn to the north and flowed north for close to three miles before turning one hundred and eighty degrees and swirling in front of the city. The meandering of the river was at that time referred to as Vicksburg Bend ("Course Changes Of The Mississippi River - Vicksburg National Military Park (U.S. National Park Service)").

As previously observed, earthquakes have contributed significantly to changes of the Mississippi River over time. Sometimes, the earthquakes usually occurs in the Mississippi Valley and profoundly change the course of the river. The central part of the Mississippi Valley has been observed to have a high frequency of earthquakes than other sections of the United States to the east of the Rocky Mountains. One of the notable ones was the New Madrid Earthquake that occurred in 1811 to 1812 leading to the creation of waterfalls, islands removal and forcing the river to flow upstream temporarily ("Science Of The New Madrid Seismic Zone").

Enhancements of the river channel for shipping have also led to the consumption of modern engineers. Nonetheless, this was not the main attention of river regulation purposes up to the late 1800s. Shipping was made comfortable and quicker through the elimination of natural difficulties such as sandbars, boulders, and fallen trees. There was also the excavating of specific river channels, the building of triangulation utilities and leveling of the river. The Mississippi River and its tributaries have since time immemorial been used as primary transportation paths. A boat can gain access to more than half of the United States from the Mississippi River (Madrigal).

Human activities of the Mississippi River have resulted in a change of the natural background and philosophy of the lower Mississippi Valley. Some of the notable impacts include loss of plant, animal species, and wetlands. However, it is vital to mention one crucial impact observed from the control of the Mississippi River on the State of Mississippi. After the Civil War, cotton production would not be a dominant crop. A substantial amount of money was infused into protection construction. Floods hindered efficient cotton production and the development of infrastructures such as railways, towns, and roads that were necessary to support a large-scale form of agriculture (O'Brien). Therefore, the control of the Mississippi River promoted the production of cotton.

The Mississippi River is an enormous alluvial river denoting that the sediment it conveys decides where it will settle or be deposited. The change of the Mississippi River over time has led to the formation of the Atchafalaya River basin. Its creation was due to the earlier structure of the Mississippi to its east and west. It was also due to the movement of the Red River from Texas to central Louisiana. However, the development of various sandbars that have even led to the advancement of sections of the Mississippi River bottom upriver between the rivers regulates the configuration and Vicksburg. In case floods occur in future, it has been depicted that they could displace the sand and washes it downstream. It would then raise the river bottom rapidly to the south of the control structure and make the plowing impact more hazardous (Alexander, Wilson, and Green).

The paper has explored the Mississippi River, and it changed over time. It has been found that the meandering of the river has resulted in particular effects such as cutting off the riverbed banks.

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