A modeling study was undertaken to simulate the bottom tidal-, wave-, and wind-driven currents in Long Island Sound in order to provide a general physical oceanographic framework for understanding the characteristics and distribution of seafloor sedimentary environments. Tidal currents are important in the funnel-shaped eastern part of the Sound, where a strong gradient of tidal-current speed was found. This current gradient parallels the general westward progression of sedimentary environments from erosion or non-deposition, through bedload transport and sediment sorting, to fine-grained deposition. Wave-driven currents, meanwhile, appear to be important along the shallow margins of the basin, explaining the occurrence of relatively coarse sediments in regions where tidal currents alone are not strong enough to move sediment. Finally, westerly wind events are shown to locally enhance bottom currents along the axial depression of the sound, providing a possible explanation for the relatively coarse sediments found in the depression despite tide- and wave-induced currents below the threshold of sediment movement. The strong correlation between the near-bottom current intensity based on the model results and the sediment response as indicated by the distribution of sedimentary environments provides a framework for predicting the long-term effects of anthropogenic activities.
Additional publication details
Physical processes affecting the sedimentary environments of Long Island Sound
Reston, VA, United States
Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center
Larger Work Title:
Proceedings of the International Conference on Estuarine and Coastal Modeling
Proceedings of the 1997 5th International Conference on Estuarine and Coastal Modeling