April 11, 2001
The MODIS satellite image above, taken on March 5, shows sediment plumes moving into the Gulf of Mexico from the main branch of the Mississippi River as well as through the bayous in its delta region. It's easy to understand how our nation's longest river is often referred to as "The Big Muddy." Although improved soil conservation practices and preservation of farmlands have lessened water pollution in recent decades, soil erosion combined with heavy rains and spring snowmelt can push millions of tons of sediment each year into the Mississippi Delta region, reducing water quality and filling river channels with silt. As a result of sediment from up-river being dumped into the Gulf of Mexico, the state of Louisiana is actually increasing in area each year.