Artist Renditions of Future Sediment Accumulation in the Lewis and Clark Lake Delta

Written by Nicole Geary in March 2013

To begin these projections, I worked with the Delta Project Committee to survey different sights along the Missouri River. With a Research Assistant at the Missouri River Institute, we mapped several possible locations that would provide a good vantage point for the 100-year forecast. After a few trips, we decided upon the two selected sights: Miller Creek, Nebraska and Charley Creek, South Dakota. These sights provided the desired elevation and views of the lake that would allow for the preferred scene of the progradation of the delta through time. I photographed the Lewis and Clark Lake from the sights and made notes about each location such as direction, scale, landmarks, and color observations. For Miller Creek, the view of the Lewis and Clark Lake that looks to the northwest, the drawing included a large landmark set of chalk bluffs. At Charley Creek, the chalk bluffs are also prominent and the view shows a closer look at the lake as the delta will pass to the southeast.

The Missouri River Institute provided some aerial photographs of the Missouri River delta so that I could see the way that it builds and understand the larger scale of the forms. Before beginning each painting, I first created plans for how each drawing should look. I sketched projections of the 25-, 50-, and 100-year development of the delta, which I made by looking at points along the Missouri that are currently in different stages. At Springfield, I observed places where the delta is already in full growth. I used tools such as Google Earth to look at various angles of the delta, and talked with geologists and biologists on the Delta Project Committee about the appropriate amount of sedimentation for each segment. Once the committee agreed that the sketches showed an apt model for the progradation, I began to translate them into paintings. The purpose of the series is to show a progression in four stages from 2013 to 2113. Each painting is from one vantage point and reflects the projected changing ecosystem on the Lewis and Clark Lake if sedimentation reduction measures are not taken.

Nicole Geary

Artist, MFA Candidate

University of South Dakota