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During the spring/summer of 1993, the upper Midwestern USA experienced unusually heavy precipitation (200-350% above normal). More than 500 gauging stations in the region were simultaneously above flood stage, and nearly 150 major rivers and tributaries over-topped their banks. This was one of the costliest floods in the history of the USA, and came to be known as the "Great Flood of 1993". An examination of the long-term daily sediment record for the Mississippi River at Thebes, Illinois (representing the middle, or lower part of the upper basin), indicates that the flood had a severe and long-lasting impact on subsequent suspended sediment concentrations (SSC) and annual suspended sediment fluxes in the basin. At Thebes, pre1993 (1981-1992) median discharge and SSC were about 5400 m3 s-1 and 304 mg L-1, respectively; whereas, post-1993 (1994-2004) median discharge and SSC were about 5200 m3 s-1 and 189 mg L-1, respectively. Clearly, the 1993 flood removed substantial amounts of "stored" bed sediment and/or readily erodible flood plain deposits, eliminating a major source of SSC for the Thebes site. Examination of additional, but discontinuous sediment records (covering the period from 1981-2004) for other sites in the basin indicates that current post-flood declines in SSC and suspended sediment fluxes range from a low of about 10% to a high of about 36%.
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The effect of the "Great Flood of 1993" on subsequent suspended sediment concentrations and fluxes in the Mississippi River Basin, USA