The Gulf Coast looked very different 12,000 to 18,000 years ago, according to Tulane University geographer Richard Campanella. Then, as temperatures rose in North America and ice sheets melted, massive amounts of water flowed into the Gulf of Mexico, depositing sediment that eventually gave Louisiana its distinctive coastline, he said. Humans have subsequently sought to control the Mississippi River by installing levees, which has been problematic for the southeastern part of the state. "This land is built of mud, millennia of mud, and it sinks, it compacts," said historian Larry Powell.
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