Back to Top

Coastal Definition and Louisiana Maps

Coastal Louisiana is no more a place than a process and a way of life.

The Mississippi River Delta is all the land built as a direct result of deposition of soils by the Mississippi River.  The present delta is what is left of land and vegetated wetlands that have been produced during the last 3,000-6,000 or so years.

The Louisiana coast – branded America’s WETLAND- is subdivided into two regions:

-The Mississippi River Deltaic Plain - bordered on the west by Vermilion Bay, on the east by the Pearl River, and the north by a line running along the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain, then up the old Pleistocene Ridge on the river's present east bank until around the area of Simmesport, Louisiana, then on a line down to Vermilion Bay south of Lafayette.  It is characterized by natural levees and waterways that radiate like fingers from the northwest toward the southeast because they were all originated by a wandering Mississippi River over several thousand years.

-The Chenier Plain - bordered on the east by Vermilion Bay, on the west by the Sabine River, and on the north by the Pleistocene Ridge (roughly Interstate 10).  It is characterized by abandoned beach fronts that parallel the Gulf shore.  These high ridges support live oak trees (in French, Chenier).  Rather than the river being the direct origin of its soil, the Chenier Plain gets its soil from 1) the wave action of the Gulf (much of that comes from Mississippi River water, hence the absence of pretty beaches) and 2) huge amounts of mud left after major floods (Chenier au Tigre had many nice hotels, but the great flood of 1927 left 600 ft of mud between the hotels and the Gulf of Mexico).

Louisiana’s coastal Chenier Plain (Living with the Louisiana Shore).

Coastal Plain of the southeastern U.S. (Yodis et al., 2003, Fig 1.3, p. 5).

Drainage systems of Louisiana (Yodis et al., 2003, Fig. 2.4, p. 19).

Physiographic map of Louisiana (Yodis et al., 2003, Fig. 1.1, p. 2).

Vegetation regions of Louisiana (Yodis et al., 2003).

For your continual reference, here are two maps of Louisiana showing most landmarks that we will mention during the semester.