Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Harold Fisk's 'Ancient Courses Mississippi River Meander Belt' maps

"Ancient Courses Mississippi River Meander Belt is a map created by cartographer and geologist Harold Fisk for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Each plate shows a different portion of the Mississippi river and its various courses through time between Cape Girardeau, MO and Donaldsonville, LA—some of these channels date back thousands of years.


The maps were part of his report Geological Investigation of the Alluvial Valley of the Lower Mississippi River completed in 1944. The study was made to learn about the formation of the valley over time, and about the major factors that dictate its flow and flooding in the modern era. The data was collected by creating approximately 16,000 borings so that layers of soil and deposits of sediment from the river's prior courses deep underground could be analyzed.

Fisk drew more than geographic data—he also found the river’s heart in this jumble of loops and purls. The river finds its personality reflected in this explosive, autumn-colored palette, its constantly churning rhythm shaping the soil, digging out a constantly changing place so distinctively its own. From prehistory to the 20th century, these maps are made for the ages."

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