I'm creating a bronze age setting and one of the civilizations gets their powers from a river whose irrigation produces a vast food supply. So, I decided to figure out where the most powerful city states would be placed based around where the earth would be most fertile and I figured it would be at the delta, close to the mouth.

However, doing some research I found that the Mississippi delta is not considered at New Orleans (where the mouth is) but further up stream where it merges with the Yazoo river. Apparently this area was a huge, bustling cotton mecca and I was just wondering how this works. I understand that forks irrigates a wider area of land, but how is this a delta? And how can it be better for agriculture than the river's mouth?

I'm not American and don't have a very good grasp of rivers, so if someone could give a better explanation of a river delta to me (so that it encompasses the case of Mississippi) I would greatly appreciate it.

  • $\begingroup$ Have you read the general wikipedia page on river deltas? $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 17, 2015 at 10:47

2 Answers 2


You've fallen into a naming trap here.

There is The Mississippi River Delta and the Mississippi Delta. They are different things.

The Mississippi Delta is actually an Aluvial Plain not a delta at all. The Mississippi River Delta is a conventional delta and is found at the sea by New Orleans.

You can get a River Delta inland, although at the sea is the most common location.

As Wikipedia says:

River deltas form when a river carrying sediment reaches either (1) a body of standing water, such as a lake, ocean, or reservoir, (2) another river that cannot remove the sediment quickly enough to stop delta formation, or (3) an inland region where the water spreads out and deposits sediments.


This exists.

In Botswana, the Okavango River branches out to create a wide, swampy area called, appropriately enough, the Okavango Delta.

To quote the first line from the Wikipedia entry (emphasis added):

The Okavango Delta (or Okavango Grassland) (formerly spelled Okovango or Okovanggo) in Botswana is a very large, swampy inland delta formed where the Okavango River reaches a tectonic trough in the central part of the endorheic basin of the Kalahari.

Also, be sure to check it out on a map or satellite view.

  • $\begingroup$ That's just weird, but really obvious from the satellite view, a big river delta that just stops in the middle of Africa. $\endgroup$
    – Josh King
    Commented Feb 13, 2017 at 21:02

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