Optical data processing and projected applications of the ERTS-1 imagery covering the 1973 Mississippi River Valley floods

Water Resources Bulletin
By:  and 



Flooding along the Mississippi River and some of its tributaries was detected by the multispectral scanner (MSS) on the Earth Resources Technology Satellite (ERTS-1) on at least three orbits during the spring of 1973. The ERTS data provided the first opportunity for mapping the regional extent of flooding at the time of the imagery. Special optical data processing techniques were used to produce a variety of multispectral color composites enhancing flood-plain details. One of these, a 2-color composite of near infrared bands 6 and 7, was enlarged and registered to 1:250,000-scale topographic maps and used as the basis for preparation of flood image maps. Two specially filtered 3-color composites of MSS bands 5, 6, and 7 and 4, 5, and 7 were prepared to aid in the interpretation of the data. The extent of the flooding was vividly depicted on a single image by 2-color temporal composites produced on the additive-color viewer using band 7 flood data superimposed on pre-flood band 7 images. On May 24, when the floodwaters at St. Louis receded to bankfull stage, imagery was again obtained by ERTS. Analysis of temporal data composites of the pre-flood and post-flood band 7 images indicate that changes in surface reflectance characteristics caused by the flooding can be delineated, thus making it possible to map the overall area flooded without the necessity of a real-time system to track and image the peak flood waves. Regional planning and disaster relief agencies such as the Corps of Engineers, Office of Emergency Preparedness, Soil Conservation Service, interstate river basin commissions and state agencies, as well as private lending and insurance institutions, have indicated strong potential applications for ERTS image-maps of flood-prone areas.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Optical data processing and projected applications of the ERTS-1 imagery covering the 1973 Mississippi River Valley floods
Series title Water Resources Bulletin
DOI 10.1111/j.1752-1688.1974.tb00622.x
Volume 10
Issue 5
Year Published 1974
Language English
Publisher American Water Resources Association
Publisher location Herndon, VA
Contributing office(s) Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center
Description 17 p.
First page 1023
Last page 1039
Country United States
Other Geospatial Mississippi River
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional metadata about this publication, not found in other parts of the page is in this table