Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Can river sediment be used to repair the coast?

Date:
May 20, 2011
Source:
Louisiana State University
Summary:
They say that time and tide wait for no man -- well, neither does the mighty Mississippi River. While near record-breaking water levels are expected any day now and safety precautions are being taken, one professor explained how the river's meandering historic path and silty contents might offer a future ray of hope.

A 24 x 48-foot small-scale physical model of the lower 84 miles of the Mississippi River is housed near the levee on River Road.
Credit: Jim Zietz/University Relations

As the already gargantuan body of water swells beyond its normal human-made boundaries, the state of Louisiana is starting to see impact after having seen the damage already done to states from Missouri to Mississippi. While near record-breaking water levels are expected any day now and safety precautions are being taken, one LSU professor explained how the river's meandering historic path and silty contents might offer a future ray of hope.

"Historically, the Mississippi River is a meandering river, shifting its path pretty substantially over the past hundreds and thousands of years," said Clint Willson, LSU associate professor of civil and environmental engineering and director of the university's Vincent A. Forte River and Coastal Hydraulics Lab. "However, Louisiana, especially south Louisiana, relies on industry supported by the enormous number and size of ports. You can't have a thriving port industry if the river you depend on constantly shifts, which is why we have restricted the river's meandering over time."

Large floods like the current one carry huge quantities of sediment that eventually deposit on the riverbed, making the river shallower, or are carried out to the Gulf of Mexico. In order to maintain the important navigation routes to the ports, the river must be dredged, which is an expensive process.

"What we need to consider is a way to efficiently capture flood water and sediment in a way that combines flood control and restoration benefits," said Willson. "In addition to providing much needed resources to our coastal wetlands, this concept would also provide some redundancy for the flood control system. Of course, flood protection and public safety still needs to remain the number one priority."

Willson, an expert in Mississippi River hydraulics and sediment transfer, has been studying the path sediment takes -- or could take -- over the lower 84 miles of the Mississippi River for years. His team at the Vincent A. Forte River and Coastal Hydraulics Lab, with the support of the Louisiana Office of Coastal Protection and Restoration, have used their small-scale physical model, or SSMP, of the river to study the potential for large-scale river and sediment diversions. One of the primary benefits of this model is that it only takes 30 minutes for them to model an entire year in river time. In other words, they can easily see the results from decades of sediment diversion operation over a very short period of time.

The 24 x 48-foot model, housed in a metal building next the levee on River Road, helps Willson and Louisiana officials evaluate potential sediment diversion locations and strategies. Experimental results from the SSPM are being used along with numerical model simulations to provide insights that help guide diversion planning and design.

"We would like to locate and design a diversion system that more effectively captures sediment. The Mississippi River is a wonderful natural resource, but currently we are not fully utilizing these resources," he said. "Many of our coastal wetlands are in need of river water and sediment. With proper management and perhaps integration with flood control measures that take into consideration public safety and economic impact, we can harness all the qualities we're not currently taking full advantage of."

Currently, a project is underway to develop a model that will be large in scale and size, more than four times the size of the SSPM now housed in the Forte lab.

"With a model that size, we can look at the river all the way up to Donaldsonville and better study the management of the river and its resources within the context of both flood control and restoration," he said. "But until then, there's plenty of work to do right where we're at now."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Louisiana State University. The original article was written by Ashley Berthelot. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Louisiana State University. "Can river sediment be used to repair the coast?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 May 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110519101353.htm>.
Louisiana State University. (2011, May 20). Can river sediment be used to repair the coast?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110519101353.htm
Louisiana State University. "Can river sediment be used to repair the coast?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110519101353.htm (accessed September 19, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Friday, September 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Wildfires in CA Burn Forest Asunder

Raw: Wildfires in CA Burn Forest Asunder

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) An out-of-control Northern California wildfire has nearly 2,800 people from their homes as it continues to grow, authorities said Thursday. Authorities said a man has been arrested on suspicion of arson for starting the fire on Saturday. (Sept. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) Grand the elephant has successfully undergone surgery to remove a portion of infected tusk at Tbilisi Zoo in Georgia. British veterinary surgeons used an electric drill to extract the infected piece. (Sept. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Squid experts in New Zealand thawed and examined an unusual catch on Tuesday: a colossal squid. It was captured in Antarctica's remote Ross Sea in December last year and has been frozen for eight months. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) A Texas man is lucky to be alive after he and three others floated for more than a day in the Gulf of Mexico when their boat sank during a fishing trip. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins