Louisiana’s long and irregular coastline extends along the Gulf of Mexico from the Pearl River on the east to the Sabine River on the west. It has an overall length of 639 km (397 mi). Including all bays, inlets, and promontories, it has a total length of 12,430 km (7,721 mi), behind only Alaska and Florida in length of marine shore. In both eastern and western Louisiana, marshy wetlands make up most of the coast. Also along the coast and extending offshore and inland are underground salt domes which, when they create rises along the marshy coast, are termed islands. Offshore sand barriers are also known as islands, such as the Chandeleur Islands.
The Mississippi River has over thousands of years created numerous deltas besides the current “bird foot” delta—the triangular deposit of sand and soil at the mouth of the Mississippi River that resembles a bird’s foot. These previous deltas and other parts of the coastline are eroding inland as they have been deprived of the huge quantities of mud and silt previously deposited by the river. Due to this coastal erosion, Louisiana has lost 4,920 sq km (1,900 sq mi) of land since the 1930s. From 1978 to 2000 Louisiana lost about 1,700 sq km (about 660 sq mi) of coastal land, at an average rate of 77 sq km (30 sq mi) per year. Major coastal restoration efforts were launched in the mid-1990s. Even with these efforts taken into account, the state is projected to lose about 1,330 sq km (about 510 sq mi) of coastal land by 2050. The loss of coastal wetlands makes the Louisiana coast more susceptible to erosion and other damage from tropical storms. As a consequence, storms increasingly contribute to the erosion and flooding of coastal areas. For example, in August 2005 Hurricane Katrina virtually washed away the Chandeleur Islands, a narrow string of sandy barriers about 110 km (about 70 mi) east of New Orleans. "Louisiana" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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