Wave dynamics and sediment transport in Great Salt Lake

A model-data comparison

  • Ben Smith California Institute of Technology
  • Robert Mahon University of New Orleans
  • Tyler Lincoln University of Colorado Boulder
  • Cedric Hagen Princeton University
  • Juliana Olsen-Valdez University of Colorado Boulder
  • John Magyar California Institute of Technology
  • Elizabeth Trower University of Colorado Boulder


Great Salt Lake is a natural laboratory to test and refine ideas about the relationship between sediment transport by waves and the characteristics of shoreline carbonate sediments, in particular ooid sands and microbialite mounds. In this chapter, we present a year-long series of wave data collected from July 2021 through June 2022 and use these wave data to assess the performance of a US Army Corps of Engineers wave model previously used to estimate bed shear velocity and intermittency of sediment transport in Great Salt Lake (Smith and others, 2020). We use this model-data comparison to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the existing model for both geological and ecological applications, and areas of improvement for future model development. We also use shallow sediment cores and Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)-based orthomosaics collected from shorelines near each buoy to assess how the wave climate along two parts of the lake shore influences the stratigraphic record and the surface morphology of the lakebed.

How to Cite
Smith , B., Mahon , R., Lincoln , T., Hagen , C., Olsen-Valdez , J., Magyar , J., and Trower , E., 2024, Wave dynamics and sediment transport in Great Salt Lake: A model-data comparison: Geosites, v. 51, p. 1-18., doi: 10.31711/ugap.v51i.139.