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The Mississippi River Delta: How it Formed, Why it is Disappearing, and Why its Conservation is a National Issue

Presented by the 2016-17 Erich and Lea Sternberg Professor Sam Bentley
When Apr 06, 2017
from 05:00 PM to 06:00 PM
Contact Name
Contact Phone 225-578-0083
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Join us for the 2017 Erich and Lea Sternberg Lecture given by Dr. Samuel J. Bentley, Billy and Ann Harrison Chair in Sedimentary Geology and Director of the LSU Coastal Studies Institute. 

Large rivers the world over have been hydrologically altered so as to reduce sediment delivery from uplands to coastal river deltas, generally by the construction of dams and river-training structures. These deltas are home to >10% of the world’s population, and are global centers of agriculture, trade, and transportation; the deltaic land loss brought on by reduced sediment supplies and rising seas is likely to substantially force reorganization of megacities and global trade networks built around river deltas, and large coastal human populations that are economically linked to river-delta fisheries, agriculture, and industries.

However, these same dams and river-training structures that reduce river-sediment loads also provide vital and stable supplies of water, safe and economical bulk-transport routes, and flood control within river catchments. Can there be a balance found in river and delta management that reduces negative impacts to river deltas, while maintaining benefits from present management strategies?  In light of these observations and questions, the 2017 Sternberg Lecture will review the history of natural and man-made changes to the Mississippi River Delta as an important example of these issues. We will evaluate the delta’s present condition, the value of the delta to the region, nation, and world, and future prospects for the delta.