As the already gargantuan body of water swells beyond its normal manmade 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.”
Ashley Berthelot | EurekAlert!
Colorado River's connection with the ocean was a punctuated affair
16.11.2017 | University of Oregon
Researchers create largest, longest multiphysics earthquake simulation to date
14.11.2017 | Gauss Centre for Supercomputing
The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.
Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...
Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.
That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...
Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.
During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....
The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.
Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...
Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...
15.11.2017 | Event News
15.11.2017 | Event News
30.10.2017 | Event News
17.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
17.11.2017 | Health and Medicine
17.11.2017 | Studies and Analyses