Estuary

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Definition of estuary:
A semi-enclosed embayment of the coast in which fresh river water entering at its head mixes with saline water entering from the ocean.
This is the common definition for estuary, other definitions can be discussed in the article


This is a usual definition given by Cameron and Pritchard (1963) [1]

However, this definition excludes the tidal river upstream of the seawater intrusion limit, where tidal motion can still have important consequences for ecosystem, water quality and morphology – for example: import of marine sediments and organisms, generation of a high turbidity zone, sedimentation/erosion of intertidal wetlands.


From a morphological/sedimentary point of view an estuary can be defined as

Definition of estuary:
Tidal inlet zone where river flow is modulated by tides.
This is the common definition for estuary, other definitions can be discussed in the article



Deben estuary, UK. Photo credit: Bescoe


Fully developed estuarine systems consist of complex dynamic interactions between channels, tidal flats, middle ground shoals and salt marshes.

Estuaries are of particular ecological value and significance because they provide important natural values concerning, for example, fish and wildlife habitat, flood protection, and maintenance of water quality.


Articles on estuaries


Reference

  1. Cameron, W. M. and D. W. Pritchard (1963) Estuaries. In M. N. Hill (editor), The Sea, Vol. 2. John Wiley & Sons, New York, 306– 324.