Yellow River Delta

  • Released Monday, October 21, 2013

China’s Yellow River is the most sediment-filled river on Earth. The river crosses a plateau blanketed with up to 300 meters (980 feet) of fine, wind-blown soil. The soil is easily eroded, and millions of tons of it are carried away by the river every year. Some of it reaches the river’s mouth, where it builds and rebuilds the delta. The Yellow River Delta has wandered up and down several hundred kilometers of coastline over the past two thousand years. Since the mid-nineteenth century, however, the lower reaches of the river and the delta have been extensively engineered to control flooding and to protect coastal development. This sequence of natural-color images shows the delta near the present river mouth at five-year intervals from 1989 to 2009. In 1996, engineers blocked the main channel and forced the river to veer northeast. By 1999, a new peninsula had formed to the north. The new peninsula thickened in the next five-years, and what appears to be aquaculture (dark-colored rectangles) expanded significantly in areas south of the river as of 2004. By 2009, the shoreline northwest of the new river mouth had filled in considerably. The land northwest of the newly fortified shoreline is home to an extensive field of oil and gas wells.

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Please give credit for this item to:
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

Release date

This page was originally published on Monday, October 21, 2013.
This page was last updated on Tuesday, November 14, 2023 at 12:23 AM EST.


This visualization can be found in the following series: