Date of Award

Summer 2006

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Ocean & Earth Sciences



Committee Director

Larry P. Atkinson

Committee Member

Arnoldo Valle-Levinson

Committee Member

Thomas C. Royer

Call Number for Print

Special Collections LD4331.O35 E59 2006


Profiles of current velocity from an Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP) and of water salinity, temperature and density from a Conductivity-Temperature-Depth (CTD) recorder, were combined with surface salinity, temperature and density from a Conductivity-Temperature (CT) recorder to elucidate the fortnightly variability at the Lafayette River entrance. The Lafayette River connects at its mouth with the Elizabeth River, which is a tributary to the James River in the Chesapeake Bay. Data were collected in four experiments during consecutive spring and neap tides in the autumn of 2000, and in the spring of 2001. Each experiment was carried out for -25 hours and consisted of three across-estuary transects: one at the mouth, where the Elizabeth River estuary joins the Lafayette River estuary, and two more toward the head of the estuary. The maximum depth of the transects was <5 >m, and despite the shallowness, the mean flow showed two-layer exchange during neap tides. During spring tides there was a recirculation where the two sub-estuaries interact and a marked lateral density structure. During neap tides, there was a recirculation consisting of inflow in the northern half of the estuary while within the southern half of the estuary there was a net outflow at the surface and net inflow at the bottom. The recirculation at the mouth is intensified during wet periods due to intense river discharge. The along-estuary dynamics is that proposed by the theory, that is, a balance between advection, pressure gradients and friction.


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