1993 Missouri River Flood Exercise

This page authored by John W. Bartley, Muskegon Community College

Images in the exercise were obtained from the USGS, probably in 1997-98. I have not been able to find a link to the original images.
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This exercise is done after a brief lecture/discussion on flooding and its effects, and after viewing the 55-minute PBS NOVA video "Flood!" which was filmed and produced during and after the 1993 Mississippi River flood.

Students are presented with several LANDSAT images of a portion of the Missouri River near Glasgow, Missouri, illustrating the valley before, during, and after the 1993 flood. Students are asked to identify and interpret features visible in the images, and to respond to questions about the flood based on both the images and their recall of what they observed from the NOVA video.

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Learning Goals

Among the concepts students are expected to learn from this activity are the effects of severe flooding, the changes that occur in river systems as a result of severe flooding, impact on human activity due to flooding, and river dynamics. Students are asked to critically evaluate images of the effects of flooding, and to apply previously learned concepts of stream flow, sediment sorting, and stream erosion to images they have not seen before.

Context for Use

The exercise is used as a lab, part of a unit on stream processes in an introductory-level physical geology course. The exercise typically requires 30-45 minutes to complete. No special equipment is necessary to complete the exercise. It could be used as an in-class exercise, assigned as homework, or presented online.

Description and Teaching Materials

The entire exercise is provided as a PDF document; no additional teaching materials are required.

The images contained in the exercise were obtained from a USGS website in 1998; unfortunately, I am not able to locate the original website. 1993 Missouri River Flood Exercise (Acrobat (PDF) 1.2MB Jun11 10)

Teaching Notes and Tips

Students may need some introduction to identifying features from vertical satellite imagery.


Students assessment is based on the quality of the responses to the questions provided in the exercise. The exercise could be assigned to individual students, or done as a paired or group exercise. Students are required to observe new data and interpret that data based on previously learned concepts.

References and Resources

Images contained in the exercise were obtained in 1998 from USGS; the URL for the original source is unavailable. They are considered to be in the public domain.