Hydraulic geometry of a small tidal estuary

Professional Paper 422-B
By:  and 



A tidal channel in a marsh bordering the Potomac River near Alexandria, Va., was mapped, and current-meter measurements of discharge were made at various locations and at various stages in the tidal cycle. These measurements allowed analysis of the change of width, depth, and velocity with discharge at various cross sections and along the length of the channel.

There is also presented a theoretical development of some, of these same relations based on hydraulic principles and on the assumption of a uniform distribution of energy and a minimum rate of work in the system as a whole.

The change of width, depth, and velocity with discharge downstream developed from the field data checked closely with the theoretically derived values.

The estuarine channel differs from a terrestrial one in that discharge at any section in an estuary varies depending on how the flow shaped the entire length of the channel between the point in question and the main body of tidal water. The result is that a tidal channel changes more rapidly in width and less rapidly in depth as discharge changes downstream than does a terrestrial channel.

Study Area

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Hydraulic geometry of a small tidal estuary
Series title Professional Paper
Series number 422
Chapter B
DOI 10.3133/pp422B
Year Published 1963
Language English
Publisher U.S. Government Printing Office
Publisher location Washington, D.C.
Description 19 p.
First page B1
Last page B18
Country United States
State Virginia
City Alexandria, VA
Other Geospatial Potomac River, Wrecked Recorded Creek
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