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Delta

Postby Perry Lassiter » Mon Jul 22, 2013 10:49 pm

An article in today's NYT uses the word "delta" in relation to towns in Ark, Miss, and Memphis. The Free Online Dictionary gives one definition as referring to land on both sides of the Mississippi from Vicksburg to Memphis. But then it goes on to give the usual definition of the delta-shaped dissemination of the river into the sea, leaving alluvial deposits. Here in North Louisiana the papers often refer to the Delta country of our NE parishes along the river. On the old premise that words have usages, not meanings, how do you think this upriver usage ran upstream from the true delta?
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Re: Delta

Postby Philip Hudson » Wed Jul 24, 2013 10:37 pm

Ordinarily, a land mass called a delta is an alluvial plain formed by sediment where a river runs into an ocean. Many rivers have produced such formations. The Nile delta is shaped like the Greek letter delta: Δ. Hence the name. The Mississippi also has similar sediment land as it runs into the Gulf of Mexico but it is not, as far as I know, called a delta. The Delta Country in Northwest Mississippi and into Arkansas and Louisiana is named because of the alluvial plain, created by repeated floodings of the Mississippi, that comprises it. It is not delta shaped or where the river runs into the sea. This Delta has lost its original definition and become simply an alluvial plain. I might add a great alluvial plain that has produced enormous agricultural wealth.
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Re: Delta

Postby Perry Lassiter » Thu Jul 25, 2013 3:16 pm

E.G. faulkner's repeated phrase "cotton higher than a man's head on horseback."
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Re: Delta

Postby Philip Hudson » Thu Jul 25, 2013 6:09 pm

I know an old Mississippi delta farmer. He makes fun if the short cotton we grow in Texas. He won't admit there is more cotton on each of our cotton stalks than there is on one stalk they used to grow in the delta. The delta farmers have also gone to shorter varieties of cotton in order to accommodate automation. If you haven't been on a cotton farm lately, trust me, it's a whole nother world out there.
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Re: Delta

Postby bnjtokyo » Fri Jul 26, 2013 5:09 am

The geographic and geological dictionaries define "delta" as "A deposit of sediment that forms where a stream enters a standing body of water such as a lake or ocean."

"Transactions of the American Philosophical Society," Vol. 6, "Description of the river Mississippi and its Delta . . . ." by William Dunbar (1804) states that "the Delta of the Mississippi [commences] only at Natchez (although there is an immense body of alluvial land above) . . . ."

In the Proceeding of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1872, "The Delta of the Mississippi" by Caleb G, Forshey states that "It is, therefore, proper to describe as the Delta all the alluvial lands on the Mississippi, and its affluents, below Cape Girardeau"

These old documents suggest that suggests that the term "delta" has enjoyed an expanded definition for a long time. But I also note that Charles Lyell (1845) objected and put the head of the delta at the Atchafalaya River, which must not be much above high tide in the Gulf.
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Re: Delta

Postby Perry Lassiter » Fri Jul 26, 2013 5:14 pm

There's frequently a discussion in LA about opening flood gates into the Achafalaya to divert flood waters from the Mississippi. The Achafalaya is a very deep river and grows monster catfish. I first saw them in the acquarium in the Dallas fair grounds.
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Re: Delta

Postby Philip Hudson » Sun Jul 28, 2013 12:17 am

If the Mississippi had its way, it would go down the Achafalaya. The Army Corps of Engineers is determined that not happen. If it did, New Orleans would be high and dry and Morgan City would be the mouth of the Mississippi. The Corps has already diverted the Red River from the Mississippi to the Achafalaya to keep it under control. They are already letting Mississippi water over a spillway into the Achafalaya during floods. The Corps calls the Achafalaya a distributary (not tributary) of the Red and Mississippi Rivers. One of my brothers was engaged in a massive computer simulation of the Lower Mississippi and its wayward nature. His computer simulation predicts inevitable death for the lower Mississippi. Brush up on your Cajun if you want to visit the new Mississippi (coastal) Delta.

As for the Mississippi Delta in Arkansas, Tennessee and Mississippi (State), Cape Girardeau is considered the north-most point. Cape Girardeau is also the anticipated epicenter of a future devastating earthquake that will shake the timbers of my house in Dallas and Perry's house in Louisiana. It could take out Memphis and/or St. Louis. It has happened before, but there were few people there to see it the last time. So if the asteroids don't get us . . .
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