Army Corps mat sinking work along levee likely the source of ‘explosion’-like booms in St. Gabriel

Army Corps mat sinking work along levee likely the source of ‘explosion’-like booms in St. Gabriel
An image of a barge sinking concrete mats in the Mississippi River. (Source: US Army Corps of Engineers)

IBERVILLE PARISH, La. (WAFB) - Several residents have called asking what’s causing loud booms in the St. Gabrial area. These residents described the noise sounding like an explosion.

However, the likely source of the noise is the mat sinking process with the Army Corps of Engineers. The Corps has been dropping large pieces of concrete along the levee in order to create protection from currents being holed up, according to the Corps.

This part of the work is called rock placement, which might cause loud boom-like noises to occur.

It is a part of an overall process called mat sinking, which helps prevent erosion and allows vessels to transport millions of dollars of goods up and down the river.

Each August, the mat sinking unit in Vickburg begins its four months on the Mississippi River to maintain the riverbanks for levee protection and to provide a safe navigation channel. Corps members check the length between Memphis and New Orleans.

The Corps has been working on the area between Baton Rouge and Plaquemine for the last few weeks. Their work is nearly finished and Corps members will soon return to Vicksburg, according to the Corps.

Over the past few years, the Corps has been working to modernize its the Mat Sinking Unit, Waterways Journal reports.

The Vicksburg Engineer District, Corps Marine Design Center (MDC), SIA Solutions LLC, Bristol Harbor Group Inc. and the National Robotics & Engineering Center (NREC) are working together to design a new mat boat. The boat would increase production rates and improve the safety of the crew.

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