Wax Lake

Coordinates: 29°35′28″N 91°25′12″W / 29.591°N 91.420°W / 29.591; -91.420

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Looking down the Bayou Teche to its intersection with the Wax Lake outlet near Patterson, Louisiana

Wax Lake was a lake in St. Mary Parish, Louisiana that was converted into an outlet channel, the Wax Lake outlet, to divert water from the Atchafalaya River to the Gulf of Mexico.

Aerial view of the Wax Lake Delta in 2005

The Wax Lake Delta is a river delta in Louisiana that was formed by rapid deposition of sediment following the creation of a canal through Wax Lake off of the Atchafalaya River in 1942. It is roughly 20 miles (32 km) southwest of Morgan City adjacent to the Atchafalaya delta.

It receives 34 million tons of sediment per year. In the 64 years between 1941 and 2005, Wax Lake was completely filled with sediment, and the delta prograded approximately 8 km into the sea.

The Wax Lake Delta\'s distributary channels form via deposition of mouth bars. The first branch to the west is Campground Pass and further south there are the three main branches, East Pass, Greg Pass, and Main Pass. The mid-channel is eroded and deposited downstream at the mouth of the river (usually during a period of higher water flow), which will create a new path of flow around it. There is then an added deposition upstream, thus causing the river to bifurcate. This results in the familiar dendritic pattern.

Because it was entirely created during an observable period and, other than the creation of the canal, was not altered by humans, it has often been in studies of deltaic formation. In the time since Hurricane Katrina, it has also served and as a model for delta regrowth in the Mississippi River Delta region in order to restore habitat and protect against storm surge.


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