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Lagoonal Estuary (Physiographic Setting)

Component: Physiographic Setting

Unique Identifier: 50

Physiographic Setting Lagoonal Estuary

Definition This class of estuary tends to be shallow, highly enclosed, and have reduced exchange with the ocean. They often experience high evaporation, and they tend to be quiescent in terms of wind, current, and wave energy. Lagoonal estuaries usually have a very high surface-to-volume ratio, a low-to-moderate watershed-to-water-area ratio, and can have a high wetland-to-water ratio. The flushing times tend to be long relative to riverine estuaries and embayments because the restricted exchange with the marine-end member and the reduced river input lengthen residence times. As such, there tends to be more benthic-pelagic interaction, enhanced by generally shallow bathymetry. Additionally, exchange with surrounding landscapes (often riparian wetland and palustrine systems) tends to be enhanced and more highly coupled than in other types of estuaries.

Occasionally, a lagoon may be produced by the temporary sealing of a river estuary by a barrier. Such lagoons are usually seasonal and exist until the river breaches the barrier; these lagoons occur in regions of low or sporadic rainfall.