Tuesday, December 01, 2015

The Beauty of Historical River Channels

My social media stream this week has been full of links to an old poster from the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries. The poster depicts the historical channels of the Willamette River, in Oregon.

The poster was created by the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries in 2013 to show the dynamic movements of the Willamette River over thousands of years. The data for the river map is from a lidar derived digital elevation model of the Willamette River. It displays a 50 foot elevation range with higher elevations colored dark blue and lower elevations shown in white.

The idea for mapping historical river channels goes back at least as far as the early 20th Century. In 1944 Harold Fisk published 15 maps showing the historical course of the Mississippi River in a report entitled 'Geological Investigation of the Alluvial Valley of the Lower Mississippi River'. The report by Harold Fisk (Geology Professor at LSU) was created for the Army Corps of Engineers.

The fifteen maps in the report show 20 stages of the course of the Mississippi over 2000 years. Some Bits has taken Fisk's 15 maps and overlain them on an interactive map. This allows you to meander down the Mississippi on the map viewing all of Fisk's maps one after the other. It also allows you to zoom in and out on details in Fisk's beautiful Mississippi maps.

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