A new kind of ocean surface feature has been observed on Seasat synthetic aperture radar (SAR) images of the Mississippi River Birdfoot Delta and adjacent Gulf of Mexico waters. Although ocean surface wave patterns have been detected by Seasat SAR in several coastal areas, their origin was attributed to the interaction between oceanic currents and bottom topography. In contrast, we find no such correlation between surface wave patterns and bathymetry at the Mississippi Delta, where the morphometry and distribution of the detected waveforms suggest a river discharge origin. Although contemporaneous data from the Landsat D Thematic Mapper are not available, visible and infrared images acquired at other times generally support this hypothesis; the boundaries of the turbid, cooler river water correspond well to those of the surface wave patterns detected by the Seasat SAR.

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