Storm-driven delivery of sediment to the continental slope: Numerical modeling for the northern Gulf of Mexico

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Presentation provided during CSDMS annual meeting 2015

Storm-driven delivery of sediment to the continental slope: Numerical modeling for the northern Gulf of Mexico

Courtney Harris, Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences, Virginia, United States. ckharris@vims.edu

Abstract:

Few numerical models can estimate sediment transport from fluvial or coastal sources to deep-sea depositional sinks at the event timescale. Three-dimensional models have been developed to represent suspended sediment load on continental shelves, while separate turbidity current models have been used for continental slope environments. Shelf and slope sediment fluxes have rarely been coupled, however. To allow for interactions between them, a three-dimensional continental shelf sediment transport model for the northern Gulf of Mexico is being developed so that it can be linked to sediment-failure models. For sediment delivery to the shelf by riverine plumes and for sediment resuspension by energetic waves, sediment transport calculations were implemented within the Regional Ocean Modeling System (ROMS). The model domain represents the northern Gulf of Mexico including the Mississippi birdfoot delta and the Mississippi and DeSoto Canyons. To investigate the role of storms in driving down-slope sediment fluxes, model runs for the summer and fall of 2008 were analyzed, a time period that included the passage of two hurricanes (Ike and Gustav) over the study area. Preliminary results indicated that sediment delivery to the continental slope was triggered by the passage of these storm events, and focused at certain locations, such as submarine canyons.


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