Date of Award

Spring 1973

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Ocean & Earth Sciences



Committee Director

Ronald E. Johnson

Committee Member

Thomas A. Gosink

Committee Member

Don S. Ousterhout

Committee Member

Richard J. Lennox

Call Number for Print

Special Collections LD4331.O35H458


A portion of the Chesapeake Bay from 37°20’N latitude to the entrance was investigated to determine the halocline structure, the effects on this structure through the tidal sequence, and seasonal variations. A determination of the stage of slack water during which maximum extension of the halocline occurred was also made. This was accomplished by looking at the salinity distribution at the halocline upper limit, the mean depth to the halocline, and seasonal salinity contours drawn for tidal increments. By comparing salinity/depth gradients and salinity-depth vertical profiles, an attempt was made to relate seasonal and tidal variations to the halocline structure.

Results of this study indicate that the maximum extension up the bay of saline water occurred during slack water before ebb in the winter, except for the 20% contour, and for all contours in spring. During the autumn the opposite effect was noticed with slack water before ebb isohaline contours all being further south. The Old Dominion University plots for the summer months indicate a mixed situation. The halocline structure is described as having a decreasing depth to the halocline from the western to the eastern shore with lower salinity/depth gradients in the entrance and along the eastern shore than those on the western shore and in mid bay.

Seasonal salinity contouring indicated higher salinities on the eastern than the western shore for similar latitudes, decreasing salinity values from the Chesapeake Bay entrance to 37°20’N latitude, and maximum vertical salinity/depth gradients occurring in the summer followed by the spring. The tidal variations were considered greatest at slack before ebb, maximum ebb, and at one and one half hours past maximum ebb.


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