Modeling wave-mud interaction on the central chenier-plain coast, western Louisiana Shelf, USA

Safak I., Sahin C. , KAIHATU J. M. , Sheremet A.

OCEAN MODELLING, vol.70, pp.75-84, 2013 (Peer-Reviewed Journal) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 70
  • Publication Date: 2013
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.ocemod.2012.11.006
  • Journal Name: OCEAN MODELLING
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded, Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.75-84
  • Keywords: Wave modeling, Surface waves, Nonlinear waves, Wave dissipation, Muddy seafloor, Mud, Viscosity, Bottom boundary layer, Louisiana Shelf, INNER CONTINENTAL-SHELF, GULF-OF-MEXICO, SURFACE-WAVES, ATCHAFALAYA RIVER, SHALLOW-WATER, LONG WAVES, TRANSFORMATION, PROPAGATION, DISSIPATION, ATTENUATION


The strong coupling between hydrodynamics and seafloors on shallow muddy shelves, and resulting bed reworking, have been extensively documented. On these shelves, spectral wave transformation is driven by a complex combination of forcing mechanisms that include nonlinear wave interactions and wave energy dissipation induced by fluid-mud at a range of frequencies. Wave-mud interaction is investigated herein by using a previously validated nonlinear spectral wave model and observations of waves and near-bed conditions on a mildly-sloping seafloor off the muddy central chenier-plain coast, western Louisiana Shelf, United States. Measurements were made along a cross-shelf transect spanning 1 km between 4 and 3 m water depths. The high-resolution observations of waves and near-bed conditions suggest presence of a fluid mud layer with thickness sometimes exceeding 10 cm under strong long wave action (1 meter wave height with 7 s peak period at 4 meter depth). Spectral wave transformation is modeled using the stochastic formulation of the nonlinear Mild Slope Equation, modified to account for wave-breaking and mud-induced dissipation. The model is used in an inverse manner in order to estimate the viscosity of the fluid mud layer, which is a key parameter controlling mud-induced wave dissipation but complicated to measure in the field during major wave events. Estimated kinematic viscosities vary between 10(-4)-10(-3) m(2)/s. Combining these results of the wave model simulations with in-depth analysis of near-bed conditions and boundary layer modeling allows for a detailed investigation of the interaction of nonlinear wave propagation and mud characteristics. The results indicate that mud-induced dissipation is most efficient when the wave-induced resuspensions of concentrations > 10 g/L settle due to relatively small bottom stresses to form a fluid mud layer that is not as thin and viscous as a consolidated seafloor in absence of wave action but also not as thick and soft as a near-bed high concentration layer that forms during strong wave action. (C) 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.