Sunday, March 14, 2010

Lagoon-Type Or Bar-Built Estuary.

These estuaries are semi-isolated from ocean waters by barrier beaches (barrier islands and barrier spits). Formation of barrier beaches partially encloses the estuary with only narrow inlets allowing contact with the ocean waters. Bar-built estuaries typically develop on gently sloping plains located along tectonically stable edges of continents and marginal sea coasts. They are extensive along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the U.S. in areas with active coastal deposition of sediments and where tidal ranges are less than 4 meters. The barrier beaches that enclose bar-built estuaries have been developed in several ways: 1) upbuilding of offshore bars from wave action, in which sand from the seafloor is deposited in elongate bars parallel to the shoreline, 2) reworking of sediment discharge from rivers by wave, current, and wind action into beaches, overwash flats, and dunes, 3) engulfment of mainland beach ridges (ridges developed from the erosion of coastal plain sediments approximately 5,000 years ago) due to sea level rise and resulting in the breaching of the ridges and flooding of the coastal lowlands, forming shallow lagoons, 4) elongation of barrier spits from the erosion of headlands, with the spit growth occurring in the direction of the littoral drift due to the action of longshore currents. Barrier beaches form in shallow water and are generally parallel to the shoreline, resulting in long, narrow estuaries. The average water depth is usually less than 5 m, and rarely exceed 10 m. Examples of bar-built estuaries include Barnegat Bay, New Jersey, Laguna Madre, Texas, and Pamlico Sound, North Carolina.

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