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The turbidity maximum in the Tamar estuary
Darbyshire, E.J.; West, J.R. (1993). The turbidity maximum in the Tamar estuary. Neth. J. Aquat. Ecol. 27: 121-133
In: Netherlands Journal of Aquatic Ecology. Kluwer Academic Publishers/Netherlands Society of Aquatic Ecology: Bilthoven. ISSN 1380-8427, more
Peer reviewed article  

Also published as
  • Darbyshire, E.J.; West, J.R. (1993). The turbidity maximum in the Tamar estuary, in: Meire, P. et al. (Ed.) Marine and Estuarine Gradients: ECSA 21: Proceedings of the 21st Symposium of the Estuarine and Coastal Sciences Association held in Gent, 9-14 september 1991. Netherlands Journal of Aquatic Ecology, 27(2-4): pp. 121-133, more

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Keywords
    Marine; Brackish water

Authors  Top 
  • Darbyshire, E.J.
  • West, J.R.

Abstract
    Many estuaries of medium to high tidal range exhibit an accumulation of fine cohesive material in their upper reaches in the region of the limit of saline intrusion. Much, or all, of this material is suspended each tidal cycle and the entire region undergoes a seasonal variation which appears to depend on fluvial input. Two factors which are throught to influence the formation and maintenance of turbidity maxima are the differing magnitudes of the bed shear stress (gamma 0)on flood and ebb tides and the large vertical density gradient which developes on the ebb tide. Crucial to the importance of the first factor is that gamma 0 exceeds a critical value, at which erosion occurs, for a greater period on the flood than on the ebb. The effect of the density gradient is that upward propagation of bed generated eddies is inhibited and the sediment is not transported into the upper part of the flow where it will be most effectively transported. It is not clear which, if either, of these mechanisms is dominant. Data consisting of vertical profiles of velocity, salinity and suspended solids were collected at four stations in the Tamar estuary during a high range tidal cycle. One station, at which the depth mean salinity (Sd) varied from 0.0 to -12.0°/oo, was occupied permanently. The other stations were occupied such that data were collected as Sd varied in the range 0.0 to -4.0°/oo. In this way each station was occupied for a period of time on the ebb and flood tide. Observations show that during the early ebb, when the flow is relatively deep and slow, stratification persist until Sd ~ 0.0°/oo and that no significant transport occurs while the flow is saline but that there is a rapid increase in suspended solids concentrations after this time. During the later ebb the shallower faster flow allowed the density gradient to be erode and significant transport was observed at Sd -5.0°/oo. On the flood tide the flow in the low salinity region is well-mixed throughout. Computation of the fluxes and total transport per unit breath of estuary show that on the ebb tide the quantity of solid material being transported by the low salinity (0-3%0) region remains nearly constant as this region of the flow is advebted seaward. On the flood tide, however, as the same region is advected landward the quantity of material being transported increases. It is concluded that in the Tamar estuary the early ebb tide stratification contributed to the formation and maintenance of a turbidity maximum which is strongly associated with the low salinity region of the flow. It is also speculated that the differences in the ebb and flood tide transport are caused by differences in the availability of mobile material on the bed at different stages of the tidal cycle.

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