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Summary Article: Mississippi delta
from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

The 320-km/200-mi course of the lower Mississippi River, from its confluence with the Red River, 74 km/48 mi north of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to its mouth in the Gulf of Mexico, 145 km/90 mi southeast of New Orleans.

Distributaries A number of distributaries carry or can carry much of the discharge of the river, chief among them the Atchafalaya River, diverging from the Red River northwest of Baton Rouge; this may eventually become the mainstream because of the buildup of sediment at the current mouth. The Bayou Lafourche, diverging at Donaldsonville, below Baton Rouge, is another important distributary, and above New Orleans a floodway can divert high water east to Lake Pontchartrain. Flowing southeast through rich alluvial lowlands, wooded swamplands, and salt marshes, the mainstream of the river divides into several channels (passes) 117 km/73 mi below New Orleans – Main Pass, North Pass, Southeast Pass, South Pass, and Southwest Pass.

Economic and environmental aspects The delta is important to the Louisiana economy, from its freshwater lakes to its brackish bayous and saltwater mouth. It is navigable for oceangoing vessels to Baton Rouge. It is teeming with mullet, redfish, sea trout, and tarpon; such swamp animals as opossum, alligators, and nutria; and shellfish, chiefly crayfish, oysters, and shrimps. Sugar cane is raised in the area, and sulphur, oil, and natural gas are extracted. At the southeastern tip is the Delta National Wildlife Refuge. The area is crossed by the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, which is connected to the Mississippi at New Orleans by a series of locks. Among the myriad inlets in the delta is historic Barataria Bay, south of New Orleans.

essays

The Mississippi Delta

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