One of the greatest environmental disasters of our time is taking place in and around the Mississippi Delta. Land is disappearing at the rate of. 40 square miles per year. If this loss is not stemmed, some coastal areas will recede by over 30 miles, losing valuable natural resources and habitat.
Human intervention, changing the natural course of the rivers in order to settle and cultivate the land over the last few centuries is the prime cause. Levees have been built in order to protect towns and cities but they prevent the natural deposits of silt, which created the Delta over thousands of years. Industrial pollution and the unharnessed exploration of gas and oil have contributed further to the destruction over recent years. The 2011 Deepwater Horizon disaster did not help.
If the erosion is not reversed, it is estimated that between 500 and 700 square miles of land will disappear over the next 50 years.
This coastal boundary is essential for the cities, ports and industries along the coast, offering some protection from devastating hurricanes such as Katrina. It is also home to some unique wildlife and a migratory resting place for over five million birds.
There are various projects and agencies such as the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, the Environment Protection Agency, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the Nature Conservancy working to repair and protect all aspects of this fragile environment.
An underwater salt cavern has partially collapsed under Bayou Corne, swallowing several acres of swampland, the caverns are a result of salt mining and can have depths of more than a mile underground. The extent of further sinking is unknown.