Liu, K.., McCloskey, T.A., Bianchette, T.A., Keller, G., Lam, N.S.N., Cable, J.E., Arriola, J. 2014. Hurricane Isaac Storm Surge Deposition in a Coastal Wetland along Lake Pontchartrain, Southern Louisiana. In: Green, A.N. and Cooper, J.A.G. (eds.), Proceedings 13th International Coastal Symposium (Durban, South Africa), Journal of Coastal Research, Special Issue No. 70, pp. 266–271, ISSN 0749-0208.
Hurricanes play an important role in shaping the coast of Louisiana. Although the sedimentary signatures of hurricane deposits have been documented in several different coastal environments along the northern Gulf coast, no studies have as yet documented the signatures in wetlands adjacent to large, inland brackish water bodies. In this paper we present results of a case study documenting the distribution and characteristics of storm surge deposits related to Hurricane Isaac (2012) in a wetland on the western shore of Lake Pontchartrain, Louisiana. Hurricane Isaac, a category1 storm, made landfall near the mouth of the Mississippi River on August 28, 2012. Due to its large size and slow movement, Isaac generated strong easterly winds across Lake Pontchartrain, producing a large storm surge along the west shore of the lake and unprecedented flooding in the surrounding lowlands. Loss-on-ignition, XRF, radioisotopic, and grain-size analyses conducted on sediment cores and surface samples from the area identify two distinct sedimentary signatures for the Hurricane Isaac deposits. Near the lake shore the signature is characterized by a laminated silty sand with a geochemical profile closely resembling that of lake bed material. Storm deposits located in a brackish swamp ~ 1km inland consist of a dark, low-organic mud with low concentrations of terrestrial metals and elevated concentrations of Br, S, and Cl. Differences in the storm signal are explained by the differing effect of topographical features on the depositional and transportation processes occurring at the two sites. Utilizing the geochemical/compositional signatures as a hurricane-generated storm surge proxy indicates the possible occurrence of a similar event predating the historical record.