What is an estuary: Physical Viewpoint

Pritchard, Donald W.
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American Association for the Advancement of Science

The problem of defining an estuary and delineating the area of estuarine oceanography has concerned me since I first started to study these bodies of water fifteen years ago. It is difficult to develop a definition that will include all the bodies of water one wishes to talk about and exclude all others..... From a physical standpoint, the definition of an estuary should recognize certain basic similarities in the distribution of salinity and density, as well as the circulation pattern and the mixing processes; it should point out also the importance of the boundaries which control the distribution of properties and the movement and mixing of waters. This paper continues to discuss the definition of an estuary from the physical viewpoint vs. the biological viewpoint.

pgs. 3-5
estuaries, physical properties, biological considerations, analysis, lagoons, continental shelves, circulation, diffusion, coastal plain estuaries, salt balance, partially mixed estuaries, dynamics, fjords, salinity measurements, measuring currents, origins of estuaries, geomorphology, coastal processes, ontogeny, salt marsh estuary, ephemeral estuaries, deltaic environment, australian estuaries, danish moraine archipelago, sediments, sediment transport, sedimentation, sediment accumulation, littoral drift, tidal inlets, layered sediments, ancient tidal flat, contrasts in coastal bay sediments, gulf coast, pacific coast, sediments of chesapeake bay, iron sulfide, marine sediments, compactness variability, diatomaceous sediments of stagnant fjord, microbiota, mycoflora, yeasts, diatom communities, plankton, phytoplankton, biological production, distribution of carbon dioxide, woods hole, productivity, organic compounds, fatty acids, organic detritus, ecosystem, georgia salt mars physiology, salinity and temperature, osmotic, ionic regulation in crabs, latitudes, brackish water, zoogeography, physiology, morphology of isopods, benthic ecology, nekton, fisheries, role of man, pollution, technical approaches, septic tank of megalopolis