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Geology on the Wing Wednesdays #11 – Mississippi River meander bend at New Madrid, MO

November 7, 2012

The blog has been quiet for a while, but here is one I had to share.  This photo was taken about 35,000 feet above the Mississippi river near New Madrid, MO.  New Madrid is famous for earthquakes in the early 1800s that altered the course of the river (see this ppt for an overview).

The reason I took this photo was not about the earthquakes, but about the large meander bend that is nearly at cutoff.  Flow is from lower left to upper right, and this bend is only 1 river width away from becoming an oxbow lake.  For a nice time lapse view of how this happens, click here.  Given current channel migration rates (~50 m per year for undisturbed portions), this cutoff will occur within the next few years (unless the Amry Corps of Engineers chooses to fight the river and reinforce the banks).  I suspect they have already done so (an intrepid reader could check the Google Earth time slider bar…)

3 Comments leave one →
  1. November 7, 2012 13:05

    Great photo! Thank you for sharing…seems it would be cheapest and simplest all around for the Corps to buy that land and let nature take its course.

  2. Charles permalink
    November 8, 2012 15:04

    Google Earth shows roughly 1400 meters at the narrowest point between the two cutbanks. This oxbow is huge.

  3. Josh Dixon permalink
    February 19, 2015 15:18

    Not sure if you have spent much time in Google’s new earthengine, but here are some great examples of oxbow cutoffs from Boliva.,-67.30161,10.66,latLng&t=2.86

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