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Water 2018, 10(8), 1001; https://doi.org/10.3390/w10081001

Forces Driving the Morphological Evolution of a Mud-Capped Dredge Pit, Northern Gulf of Mexico

1
Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803, USA
2
University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, Horn Point Laboratory, Cambridge, MD 21613, USA
3
Coastal Studies Institute, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803, USA
4
Naval Research Laboratory, 1005 Balch Boulevard, Stennis Space Center, Mississippi, MS 39529, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 6 June 2018 / Revised: 20 July 2018 / Accepted: 25 July 2018 / Published: 28 July 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Progress in Research on River Deltas)
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Abstract

Sandy sediments preserved as paleo-channel fill on the inner shelf, some of which are overlain by modern muds, have been mined for barrier island restoration along the northern Gulf of Mexico. These mined areas have been termed “mud-capped” dredge pits. The processes governing the morphological evolution of the pits are poorly constrained due to limited observational data. Physical oceanographic (e.g., currents and waves) and sedimentary data were collected at Sandy Point dredge pit offshore Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana in summer 2015. Currents outside the pit flowed southward and/or southeastward at speeds of 8–20 cm/s, while currents inside the pit had speeds less than 2 cm/s with no clear dominant direction. Wave heights detected inside the pit were less than 0.4 m. A high turbidity layer with suspended sediment concentration around 4 g/L was observed above the pit floor, and its thickness was ~0.5 m. With observational data as input, three 2–D numerical models were employed to predict pit morphological responses, including pit infilling, margin erosion and slope change. The model results suggest that resuspension events were rare on the seafloor adjacent to the pit under summer fair weather conditions. Modeled pit margin erosion was very limited. With little resuspension of seafloor sediment locally, weak margin erosion and stable pit walls, the dominant process governing pit evolution was infilling sourced by the deposition of suspended sediments from the Mississippi River plume. View Full-Text
Keywords: mud-capped dredge pit; pit morphology; pit infilling; Mississippi River Plume; Gulf of Mexico; sediment transport mud-capped dredge pit; pit morphology; pit infilling; Mississippi River Plume; Gulf of Mexico; sediment transport
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).
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Wang, J.; Xu, K.; Li, C.; Obelcz, J.B. Forces Driving the Morphological Evolution of a Mud-Capped Dredge Pit, Northern Gulf of Mexico. Water 2018, 10, 1001.

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