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MS Alluvial Plain

MS Alluvial Plain

The Mississippi River Alluvial Plain occupies parts of seven states.  It represents the valley of the Mississippi River and its tributaries from the vicinity of Cairo, Illinois to the Louisiana Gulf Coast.  The Mississippi-Missouri River system collects eroded debris from the entire central half of the U.S.  Upon reaching the Gulf the river's velocity slows, abruptly reducing its capacity to carry suspended mud and sand, and the sediment is deposited in vast alluvial fans.  These submarine fans are major sources of petroleum, natural gas, and sulfur. 

The alluvial plain consists of both  Pleistocene (Ice Age) and recent deposits of clay, silt, sand, and gravel that were laid down by the Mississippi River as it meandered across this broad floodplain.  It is the story of America, reduced in time and space.  Faulkner said it was "deswamped and denuded and derivered in two generations."  It was virgin wilderness and swamp at the turn of the twentieth century and cleared for cotton and plantation life by the 1930's.


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