Wax Lake Delta


Mississippi River Delta land is disappearing. Its sediment—the sediment that would replenish the subsiding delta—is instead channeled by dikes straight out to the Gulf of Mexico. 

The goal of NCED's Deltas research program is to learn how natural, self-maintaining deltas worked in the past and then to harness those processes to help restore the Mississippi River Delta today. NCED's delta land-building field site, the Wax Lake Delta (WLD), will significantly contribute to our understanding of natural delta systems

What are the characteristics of the Wax Lake Delta? TheWax Lake Delta is situated at the downstream end of the Wax Lake Delta Outlet, a man-made channel that diverts water and sediment from the lower Atchafalaya River, roughly 20 km upstream from Morgan City, Louisiana. The Atchafalaya River receives ~30% of the water and sediment from Mississippi River at the Old River Diversion, and the WLD Outlet diverts about 50% of the Atchafalaya River water and sediment to WLD. The delta has been building out into Atchafalaya Bay since 1973; with an advance rate of approximately 0.27 km/yr. Associated with this growth has been the development of a network of channels, separated by vegetated islands/bars, that continues to evolve as the delta advances seaward.

For information on research at the site contact Jim Buttles, NCED Deltas Program Manager.