Modeling waves and circulation in Lake Pontchartrain, Louisiana

Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies Transactions
By:  and 



The U.S. Geological Survey is conducting a study of storm-driven sediment resuspension and transport in Lake Pontchartrain, Louisiana. Two critical processes related to sediment transport in the lake are (1) the resuspension of sediments due to wind-generated storm waves and (2) the movement of resuspended material by lake currents during storm wind events. The potential for sediment resuspension is being studied with the wave prediction model which simulates local generation of waves by wind and shallow-water effects on waves (refraction, shoaling, bottom friction, and breaking). Long-term wind measurements are then used to determine the regional "climate" of bottom orbital velocity (showing the spatial and temporal variability of wave-induced currents at the bottom). The circulation of the lake is being studied with a three-dimensional hydrodynamic model. Results of the modeling effort indicate that remote forcing due to water levels in Mississippi Sound dominate the circulation near the passes in the eastern end of the lake, while local wind forcing dominates water movement in the western end. During typical storms with winds from the north-northeast or the south-southeast, currents along the south coast near New Orleans generally transport material westward, while material in the central region moves against the wind. When periods of sustained winds are followed by a drop in coastal sea level, a large amount of suspended sediment can be flushed from the lake.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Modeling waves and circulation in Lake Pontchartrain, Louisiana
Series title Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies Transactions
Volume 47
Year Published 1997
Language English
Publisher Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies
Contributing office(s) Coastal and Marine Geology Program, Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center
Description 4 p.
First page 529
Last page 532
Country United States
State Louisiana
Other Geospatial Lake Pontchartrain