Estuaries and Coasts

, Volume 35, Issue 6, pp 1500–1509 | Cite as

Interaction of Tidal and Fluvial Processes in the Transition Zone of the Santee River, SC, USA

  • Alexander E. YankovskyEmail author
  • Raymond Torres
  • Legna M. Torres-Garcia
  • Kyungho Jeon


This study was conducted in the freshwater reach of the Santee River approximately 55 ± 4 km from the mouth, a transition zone from a fluvial to an estuarine tidal regime. The dataset comprises bathymetric surveys, current profile and bottom pressure measurements at two locations, and time series of discharge. Our data indicate that the transition zone is characterized by strong tidal dissipation and distinctive channel geometry. Tidal dissipation is evident in the rapid decrease of the M2 amplitude to the mean along-channel velocity ratio from 2.1 to 0.9 over a ∼6-km distance. Channel cross-sectional area in the transition zone converges at a higher rate than both upstream and downstream while channel depth reveals threefold variations in the form of adjacent shoals and deeps. We hypothesize that the enhanced tidal dissipation is at the same time a cause and a result of strongly convergent bathymetry in the transition zone.


River discharge Tidal dissipation Overtide Logarithmic layer Channel convergence 



The authors are thankful to anonymous reviewers for their stimulating comments and suggestions. This study was supported by NSF grant EAR-1053299. AY was partially supported by the University of South Carolina start-up funds.


  1. Blanton, J.O., G. Lin, and S.A. Elston. 2002. Tidal current asymmetry in shallow estuaries and tidal creeks. Continental Shelf Research 22: 1731–1743.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Fong, D., S.G. Monismith, M.T. Stacey, and J.R. Burau. 2009. Turbulent stresses and secondary currents in a tidal-forced channel with significant curvature and asymmetric bed forms. Journal of Hydraulic Engineering 135: 198–208.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Friedrichs, C.T., and D.G. Aubrey. 1994. Tidal propagation in strongly convergent channels. Journal of Geophysical Research 99: 3321–3336.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Geyer, W.R., J.H. Trowbridge, and M.M. Bowen. 2000. The dynamics of a partially mixed estuary. Journal of Physical Oceanography 30: 2035–2048.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Horrevoets, A.C., H.H.G. Savenije, J.N. Schuurman, and S. Graas. 2004. The influence of river discharge on tidal damping in alluvial estuaries. Journal of Hydrology 294: 213–228.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Jay, D.A. 1991. Green’s Law revisited: Tidal long-wave propagation in channels with strong topography. Journal of Geophysical Research 96: 20585–20598.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Kasai, A., A.E. Hill, T. Fujiwara, and J.H. Simpson. 2000. Effect of the Earth’s rotation on the circulation in regions of freshwater influence. Journal of Geophysical Research 105: 16961–16969.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Lanzoni, S., and G. Seminara. 1998. On tide propagation in convergent estuaries. Journal of Geophysical Research 103: 30793–30812.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Lapine, L.A., Wellslager, M.J. 2007. GPS + GLONASS for precision, SC’s GNSS virtual reference network. Inside GNSS, July/August issue, pp. 50–57.Google Scholar
  10. Prandle, D. 2003. Relationships between tidal dynamics and bathymetry in strongly convergent estuaries. Journal of Physical Oceanography 33: 2738–2750.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Prandle, D. 2009. Estuaries: dynamics, mixing, sedimentation, and morphology. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Pritchard, D.W. 1956. The dynamic structure of a coastal plain estuary. Journal of Marine Research 15: 33–42.Google Scholar
  13. Pritchard, D.W. 1967. What is an estuary: Physical viewpoint. In Estuaries, ed. G.H. Lauf, 3–5. Washington: A.A.A.S. Publication No. 83.Google Scholar
  14. Savenije, H.H.G., M. Toffolon, J. Haas, and E.J.M. Veling. 2008. Analytical description of tidal dynamics in convergent estuaries. Journal of Geophysical Research 113: C10025. doi: 10.1029/2007JC004408.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Schlichting, H. 1960. Boundary layer theory, 2nd ed. New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  16. Scully, M.E., and C.T. Friedrichs. 2007. The importance of tidal and lateral asymmetries in stratification to residual circulation in partially mixed estuaries. Journal of Physical Oceanography 37: 1496–1511.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Speer, P.E., and D.G. Aubrey. 1985. A study of non-linear tidal propagation in shallow inlet/estuarine systems. Part II: Theory. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 21: 207–224.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Winant, C.D., and G. Gutiérrez de Velasco. 2003. Tidal dynamics and residual circulation in a well-mixed inverse estuary. Journal of Physical Oceanography 33: 1365–1379.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Wong, K.-C. 1994. On the nature of transverse variability in a coastal plain estuary. Journal of Geophysical Research 99: 14209–14222.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alexander E. Yankovsky
    • 1
    Email author
  • Raymond Torres
    • 1
  • Legna M. Torres-Garcia
    • 1
  • Kyungho Jeon
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Earth and Ocean SciencesUniversity of South CarolinaColumbiaUSA

Personalised recommendations