Historic Water Levels in Mississippi River Causing Major Issues

by Tia Bailey
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Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images

Extremely low water levels will likely cause huge shipping issues. The low water is in the Mississippi River.

The Mississippi River is the second-longest river in North America. The water in the river has dropped to historically low levels. In fact, it’s the lowest the water has been in a decade. It was caused by the severe drought happening in the Midwest. Because of this, economic issues have begun to happen.

Just last week, the low water levels made eight barges run aground.

The river is a major shipping route for things like corn, soybeans, wheat, and more. River traffic has been halted. Also, it is becoming increasingly more difficult for goods to be shipped and received because of the stoppage.

“The Coast Guard, [Army Corps of Engineers] and river industry partners are working towards the goal of opening the waterway to restricted one-way traffic when it has been determined safe to do so,” the Coast Guard said in a statement.

Although the traffic halts should be gone hopefully by Friday. The barges will still have to carry 20% less cargo than usual. This is so they are not as weighed down and less likely to hit the bottom of the river, according to CNN.

Mike Seyfert, CEO of the National Grain and Feed Association, shared with the publication that all of the factors caused by the low water levels “has cut the capacity of barges moving on the river by about 50% even before the recent river closures.” Because of this, shippers’ rates have skyrocketed.

“From what we hear from members, that has resulted in record levels of barge rates, and that’s being driven by the fact that there is limited traffic,” Seyfert said.

He noted that this time of year in particular is crucial for the river to not be blocked.

Meteor Crash Site Found Below Mississippi River Suburb

University of Minnesota researchers recently made a discovery near the Mississippi River. They found an ancient meteor crash site dating back to nearly 500 million years ago.

“UMN geologists discovered a major meteor crash site in Inver Grove Heights, a suburb of Minneapolis. The Minnesota meteor must have been massive! Learn more: https://z.umn.edu/83af,” the University of Minnesota Twitter account wrote.

“I’ve been mapping and studying the subsurface geology of Minnesota for the last 13 years … and have not come across something as exceptional as this before,” U of M scientist Julia Steenberg said in a feature released by the University.

The meteor that did the damage had to be huge.

“The diameter of the meteor that hit can only be calculated based on assumptions of what we know about other craters on Earth that have been studied,” Steenberg said. “From those calculations we estimate projectile sizes between about 150 and 600 meters, based on crater diameter estimates from 4 to 8 kilometers and [surface] rock densities of about [1.65 tons] per cubic meter.” 

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