Vertical features in flux: Elevation, interiority and the Anthropocene disruption of South West Louisiana’s five salt dome land islands

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of Marine and Island Cultures, 2018, 7 (2), pp. 37 - 45
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© 2018 Institution for Marine and Island Cultures, Mokpo National University. While islands are clearly delineated from mainland locations by virtue of their encirclement by water, fixation on this element has led to an under-appreciation and related under-exploration of the comparability of islands to elevated terrestrial features such as hills, mountains and ridges. In this article we discuss the manner in which the five so-called salt dome ‘islands’ (SDIs) of south-western Louisiana exhibit a continuum of features across locations that range from an island (Belle) to a hill (Jefferson) with the remainder (Avery, Cote Blanche and Weeks) occupying positions within these dualities. Salt domes are landscape elements produced when areas of horizontal salt deposits are forced into the strata above, where they form dome shaped intrusions. Some of these distort the surface and protrude above flat areas of land as small hills. In the case of the five salt domes discussed in this article, their protrusion above the swamplands and drier flatlands of south-western Louisiana has resulted in their perception, identification and nomenclative representation as islands. In this article, we focus on the verticality and material spatiality of the SDIs and consider the ways in which their islandness has been effected by the commercial operations that have operated on/in them. Particular focus is given to various mining and related underground storage enterprises that have disrupted the physical nature of the salt domes’ subterranean spaces, the surface that covers them and surrounding land- and water-scapes. Verticality and interiority are identified as key – if often under-recognised – aspects of islandness in general and of the SDIs in particular.
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