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Stream Courses by U.S. Geological Survey

Stream Courses, 1944

U.S. Geological Survey

Complicated lines of color loop and crisscross down the length of this composition, which looks like an abstract artwork. Islands of pink and purple cell-like structures divide meandering lines of color. Tiny dots encased in circles punctuate the composition in a pattern that seems to hold a mysterious logic. Looking at the image, we have a vague sense that this could be a key or map to a fantasy landscape, but its utility for navigation seems doubtful. This image actually maps stream courses in the Mississippi River valley, from Memphis, Tennessee in the top right corner down to Greenville, Mississippi at lower middle, circa 1944.

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Credit
United States Geological Survey