Mississippi Delta Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Kristin Pia Hayman

Kristin taught for over 10 years in the elementary classroom. She holds a B.A. in Journalism as well as a Master's Degree in Elementary Education.

The Mississippi River Delta is a massive area in Louisiana and the Gulf of Mexico. It is important to the United States because of its land formation, farming, and extensive waterways that allow for importing and exporting of goods.

What's a Delta?

Did you know that in the Greek alphabet, there's a letter shaped like a triangle? It's called a delta, and a long time ago people used this shape to also describe the shape of land at the end of a river.

A river delta is a low area at the end of a large river. It's sort of like a mixture of water and land. Deltas are made up of sediment, like sand, clay, gravel, and rocks. Think about it. If a river flows for hundreds of miles, it must bring a lot of sediment along with it, right? Well, when the river ends and empties into an ocean, all of that sediment builds up over time and creates an area of rich soil, water, and land. Many smaller rivers and streams carry some of this sediment into the ocean, but some deltas get so big that people can live on them.

A river delta from above
delta

A Powerful River

Deltas can also be created by tides and waves, but rivers often make the largest ones. The Mississippi River is the second largest river in North America, and boy is it a powerful one. For over 2,300 miles, the Mississippi River flows from all the way up north in Minnesota to the southern state of Louisiana. It pretty much cuts the United States in half.

This mighty river ends in the Gulf of Mexico, just south of the city of New Orleans. But the Mississippi River Delta covers almost 13,000 square miles (some area is under water). That's larger than the state of Massachusetts! What do you expect from a river that has been building up sediment for millions of years?

The mighty Mississippi River
delta

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