Hydrosphere of the Mississippi River

Hydrosphere of the Mississippi River

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Hydrosphere of the Mississippi River

A Case Study of

* River management

* People interfering in the hydrosphere

* A flood management scheme

River Basin / Catchment area

The source of the river is the eastern side of the Rocky Mountains and
the Appalachian Mountains to the north. There are many hundreds of
tributaries including the Red River, Missouri river and the river
Ohio. The mountains form the river's watershed.

From Minneapolis the river flows South-East into Iowa where it flows
south as far as Davenport. At Davenport it is joined by more small
tributaries. From Davenport it meanders South to St. Louis, where it
is joined by the Missouri. It then flows South-East, to be joined by
the Ohio. It then flows 400 km before being met by the Arkansas river.
It then flows South through Louisiana, to the Gulf of Mexico, where it
splits into the many distributaries of its delta.

How is the Mississippi controlled ?

How & why used ?




Mounds of earth are built parallel to the river, along its banks.
These contain the rising river in flood times and protect buildings
along the valley on the flood plain behind.

· Known & successful technology which follows nature (rivers deposit
silt to build natural levees anyway)

· Protect settlements

· Allow land close to the river to be used for economic gain

· Concrete levees are a barrier to the river draining away naturally

· Expensive to build & repair

· Restrict access to the river



Straight channel is cut between two necks of a meander -shortens

· Shortens river - cuts transport costs

· Controls the flow of the river more closely

· Evidence now suggests that river Mississippi too powerful - re-cut
back to original meander course breaking away from artificial channel.

Wing Dikes

Structures built out into river to force faster current to midstream.

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· Faster current digs deeper channel so shipping lane can be

· Prevents banks being eroded - protects settlements

· Expensive

Concrete mattresses

Lining river bed with strips of concrete to control flow and keep open
a shipping lane.

· Controls river

· Speeds up river & gets excess river discharge away faster

· Speeds up flow - discharges faster but can lead to flooding


To keep open shipping lane as Mississippi used extensively to
transport goods across USA

· Relatively cheap

· Keeps shipping channel open


Why is the Mississippi controlled ?

1. To allow settlement along the flood plain - good sites for
residential & industrial development along the river.

2. To keep open a critical artery of USA transport network

3. To keep down costs brought by flooding (loss of life, income,
homes, transport etc...)

Is the management worth the cost ?

Some people argue that it isn't worth it and that nature will always
win (note: channel straightening). Huge schemes have cost billions of
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