30 May 2009

Oxbow topography of the Mississippi valley

I've always been fascinated by the formation and disappearance of oxbows and oxbow lakes. Once you know what to look for, you can see the remnants of old ones whenever you fly over a river in relatively flat terrain. The meandering path of a slow-moving river explains how sunken riverboats can be discovered miles away from a current riverbed.

Radical Cartography (a site that looks worth exploring, BTW) has reproduced the color illustrations of a 1944 book, The Alluvial Valley of the Lower Mississippi River. Above are a two of the illustrations, showing how complex the stratified geography can be in such a region.


  1. Mark Twain writes about this in his book 'Life on the Mississippi'...interesting and funny.

  2. I love to search for Oxbows every time I fly.
    My other favorite is to look for visible faults. I sometimes fly over the San Andreas on the way up to Sacramento.

  3. Stella- MinneapolisMay 31, 2009 at 1:29 AM

    Peter Stevens wrote in "Patterns in Nature" (paraphrased) A river will move forward no more that 10 times its width and then change direction.


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