0.006 Inventory

I was not expecting the River to be so high during this site observation, however it was very valuable to observe De Soto in this altered state. As the river rises because of northern snowmelt, it is creating new interactions between land and water. I am starting to grasp the complexity of the changing nature of this batture land. Each time I visit, De Soto appears to be in environmental transition, whether it be seasonal or the cycles of natural forces. Utilizing these cycles of change is vital to designing a sucessful productive landscape. It is necessary to work with these natural conditions and maximize the ecological integrity of De Soto Park in order the acheive a renewable system.

This site observation in particular was very helpful in understanding the way the river determines the use of particular spaces and how it creates unique micro environments. The river’s interventions into the De Soto park batture make it a unique piece of land that has potential to be utilized in multiple forms of productive landscape systems. It is now my responsibility to extract the most beneficial properties and use them to design a kind of natural urban infrastructure.



.006 The River’s Edge

I want to further explore the unique conditions occuring along the land-water interface. I beleive the forces of the river are creating unique interventions on our site that need to be documented. I plan to walk the edge of De Soto Park and to observe using photography and sketch. I hope to gain a greater understanding of the forms and patterns being created along the shore and use them as inspiration for the design of my productive landscape. I beleive the river to be a vital aspect of why this site is suitable as a productive landscape and I need to extract the beneficial impacts of the Mississippi River on batture land.

2.001 Detritus

For this illustration I focused on conveying the deconstruction of detritus as it undergoes system cycles. I was suprised to find an abundance of research material for this topic. The information I found was specific to temperate forest and streams, but I was able to make inferences about how detritus moves in a body of water as large as the Mississippi River. The largest component of detritus is described as coarse woody debris which is made up of snags, stumps, roots, branches and boles (downed tree trunks). This CWD is created in forest ecologies in the northern part of the mississippi river watershed and portions are transported by the river which acts as the mediating agent. These forests are affected by several natural occurances that cause breakage or mortality such as snow&ice melt, fire damage, insect attack, wind damage from tornados and flood damage. These natural hazards occur most often during summer months. Previously healthy trees become detritus which can then remain on site or be transported south.

Along its journey detritus is undergoing changes while submerged in water. The fast moving current strips it of its bark and the abrasion can cause it to fragment and break into further smaller pieces. These fragments may sink to the bottom, or float ashore and be deposited along the rivers edge. Input levels are directly related to a piece of detritus’s proximity to the shore.The land-water interface of the river is constantly in flux which creates areas of high trapping efficiency where detritus will gather, and areas where detritus will continue to float southward unhindered. De Soto park in particular creates a detritus trap just behind the docked barges. These stationary barges along with the subtle change in bank morphology create an ideal setting for detritus to be trapped and deposited on land, creating a detritus dam. Because the Mississippi River is such a mighty force it can transport massive pieces of detritus as large as trees and as heavy as concrete.

Once detritus has been deposited on land it will then enter the trophic matrix of the site. Although it is low in nutrient concentration and slow to decompose, detritus is a valuable long-term source of energy and nutrients. It hosts numerous organisms that fix nitrogen and assist in releasing nutrients to the soil. Detritus creates unique habitats for invertebrates and even larger mammals. As long as detritus remains deposited on land, it will undergo complex biological transformations that contribute to the ecosystem.

However detritus is never fixed and as the land-water interface changes it can re-enter the river and be transported further south to a new destination where it will continue to undergo the process of decomposition. Each specific piece of detritus will have a uniquely different process because there are innumerable factors that contribute to its lifecycle. Decomposition rates are dependant on the size and species of wood, moisture content, temperature and microorganisms present.



This inventory was a very relaxing excercise. I was thankful for the cool weather and the breeze because it made my two hours very pleasant. I choose to sit with a view of the river so that I could begin to think about my research system, detritus. I had the dock to my right and the borrow pit behind me while I sat on the old rusted abandoned barge. My view was blocked by many black willow trees but there was a break just large enough for me to observe the mississippi river bridge and the docked barges. I arrived at 12:40 and sat down with an open notebook. My strategy was record sensory observations in a time clock method. I begin to sketch out what different sounds like look like on paper. I took several photographs over increments of thirty minutes or anytime I spotted something temporal that could be captured visually. The first hour passed very quickly but I noticed that the second hour felt very repetitive of the first.

When organizing my observations I grouped them in catagories and placed them around the images based on their location. The text on white is happening directly in my view while the text on the darker gray background are observations happening peripherally. I denoted temporal change markers by using italicised font. I also began playing with the font size to reveal the importance or frequency of an occurance.