Lagoon

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Balos coastal lagoon of northwestern Crete. The shallow lagoon is separated from the Mediterranean sea by narrow shoals connecting to a small, rocky mountain. BalosLagoonCreta.jpg
Balos coastal lagoon of northwestern Crete. The shallow lagoon is separated from the Mediterranean sea by narrow shoals connecting to a small, rocky mountain.
Garabogaz-Gol lagoon in Turkmenistan Kara-Bogaz Gol from space, September 1995.jpg
Garabogaz-Göl lagoon in Turkmenistan
Venice Lagoon Venice Lagoon December 9 2001.jpg
Venice Lagoon

A lagoon is a shallow body of water separated from a larger body of water by a narrow landform, such as reefs, barrier islands, barrier peninsulas, or isthmuses. Lagoons are commonly divided into coastal lagoons and atoll lagoons. They have also been identified as occurring on mixed-sand and gravel coastlines. There is an overlap between bodies of water classified as coastal lagoons and bodies of water classified as estuaries. Lagoons are common coastal features around many parts of the world.

Contents

Definition

Lagoon vs. estuary

Lagoons are shallow, often elongated bodies of water separated from a larger body of water by a shallow or exposed shoal, coral reef, or similar feature. Some authorities include fresh water bodies in the definition of "lagoon", while others explicitly restrict "lagoon" to bodies of water with some degree of salinity. The distinction between "lagoon" and "estuary" also varies between authorities. Richard A. Davis Jr. restricts "lagoon" to bodies of water with little or no fresh water inflow, and little or no tidal flow, and calls any bay that receives a regular flow of fresh water an "estuary". Davis does state that the terms "lagoon" and "estuary" are "often loosely applied, even in scientific literature". [1] Timothy M. Kusky characterizes lagoons as normally being elongated parallel to the coast, while estuaries are usually drowned river valleys, elongated perpendicular to the coast. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] Coastal lagoons are classified as inland bodies of water. [6] [7]

Coral reefs

When used within the context of a distinctive portion of coral reef ecosystems, the term "lagoon" is synonymous with the term "back reef" or "backreef", which is more commonly used by coral reef scientists to refer to the same area. [8]

Names

Many lagoons do not include "lagoon" in their common names. Currituck, Albemarle and Pamlico sounds in North Carolina, [9] Great South Bay between Long Island and the barrier beaches of Fire Island in New York, [10] Isle of Wight Bay, which separates Ocean City, Maryland from the rest of Worcester County, Maryland, [11] Banana River in Florida, [12] Lake Illawarra in New South Wales, [13] Montrose Basin in Scotland, [14] and Broad Water in Wales have all been classified as lagoons, despite their names. In England, The Fleet at Chesil Beach has also been described as a lagoon.

In some languages the word for a lagoon is simply a type of lake: In Turkish, a lake is göl, a lagoon is gölcük. Similarly, in Chinese a lake is hu (湖), a lagoon is xihu. (潟湖)

Contrariwise, several other languages have specific words for such bodies of water. In Spanish, coastal lagoons generically are laguna costera, but those on the Mediterranean coast are specifically called albufera (es): In Russian and Ukrainian those on the Black Sea are liman (лиман), while the generic word is laguna (Лагуна). Similarly, in the Baltic, Danish has the specific Nor (da), and German the specifics Bodden and Haff (de), as well as generic terms derived from laguna. In New Zealand the Māori word hapua refers to a coastal lagoon formed at the mouth of a braided river where there is mixed sand and gravel beaches, while the word waituna is the more general term.

Some languages differentiate between coastal and atoll lagoons: In French, lagon(fr) refers specifically to an atoll lagoon, while coastal lagoons are described as étang(fr), the generic word for a still lake or pond. In Vietnamese, Đầm san hô refers to an atoll lagoon, whilst Đầm phá is coastal.

Latin American laguna

In Latin America, the term laguna in Spanish, which lagoon translates to, may be used for a small fresh water lake in a similar way a creek is considered a small river. However, sometimes it is popularly used to describe a full-sized lake, such as Laguna Catemaco in Mexico, which is actually the third largest lake by area in the country. The brackish water lagoon may be thus explicitly identified as a "coastal lagoon" (laguna costera). In Portuguese, a similar usage is found: lagoa may be a body of shallow sea water, or a small freshwater lake not linked to the sea.

Etymology

Lagoon is derived from the Italian laguna, which refers to the waters around Venice, the Lagoon of Venice. Laguna is attested in English by at least 1612, and had been Anglicized to "lagune" by 1673. In 1697 William Dampier referred to a "Lagune or Lake of Salt water" on the coast of Mexico. Captain James Cook described an island "of Oval form with a Lagoon in the middle" in 1769. [15]

Atoll lagoons

Satellite picture of the Atafu atoll in Tokelau in the Pacific Ocean Atafutrim.jpg
Satellite picture of the Atafu atoll in Tokelau in the Pacific Ocean

Atoll lagoons form as coral reefs grow upwards while the islands that the reefs surround subside, until eventually only the reefs remain above sea level. Unlike the lagoons that form shoreward of fringing reefs, atoll lagoons often contain some deep (>20 metre; 65') portions.

Coastal lagoons

Anzali Lagoon in southwestern Caspian Sea coast, Iran Anzali lagoon Barry Kent.jpg
Anzali Lagoon in southwestern Caspian Sea coast, Iran
Coastal lagoon landscapes around the island of Hiddensee near Stralsund, Germany. Many similar coastal lagoons can be found around the Western Pomerania Lagoon Area National Park. Hiddensee (2011-05-21).JPG
Coastal lagoon landscapes around the island of Hiddensee near Stralsund, Germany. Many similar coastal lagoons can be found around the Western Pomerania Lagoon Area National Park.

Coastal lagoons form along gently sloping coasts where barrier islands or reefs can develop off-shore, and the sea-level is rising relative to the land along the shore (either because of an intrinsic rise in sea-level, or subsidence of the land along the coast). Coastal lagoons do not form along steep or rocky coasts, or if the range of tides is more than 4 metres (13 ft). Due to the gentle slope of the coast, coastal lagoons are shallow. A relative drop in sea level may leave a lagoon largely dry, while a rise in sea level may let the sea breach or destroy barrier islands, and leave reefs too deep under water to protect the lagoon. Coastal lagoons are young and dynamic, and may be short-lived in geological terms. Coastal lagoons are common, occurring along nearly 15 percent of the world's shorelines. In the United States, lagoons are found along more than 75 percent of the Eastern and Gulf coasts. [3] [4]

Coastal lagoons are usually connected to the open ocean by inlets between barrier islands. The number and size of the inlets, precipitation, evaporation, and inflow of fresh water all affect the nature of the lagoon. Lagoons with little or no interchange with the open ocean, little or no inflow of fresh water, and high evaporation rates, such as Lake St. Lucia, in South Africa, may become highly saline. Lagoons with no connection to the open ocean and significant inflow of fresh water, such as the Lake Worth Lagoon in Florida in the middle of the 19th century, may be entirely fresh. On the other hand, lagoons with many wide inlets, such as the Wadden Sea, have strong tidal currents and mixing. Coastal lagoons tend to accumulate sediments from inflowing rivers, from runoff from the shores of the lagoon, and from sediment carried into the lagoon through inlets by the tide. Large quantities of sediment may be occasionally be deposited in a lagoon when storm waves overwash barrier islands. Mangroves and marsh plants can facilitate the accumulation of sediment in a lagoon. Benthic organisms may stabilize or destabilize sediments. [3] [4]

Regulation

In the European Union, coastal lagoon habitat is classified and under Directive 92/43/EEC on the conservation of natural habitats and wild flora and fauna (Habitats Directive). Furthermore, numerous bird species breed in coastal lagoons. As a result, many lagoons are also protected under Directive 2009/147/EC on the conservation of birds (Birds Directive).

Images

See also

Related Research Articles

Fjord Long, narrow inlet with steep sides or cliffs, created by glacial activity

In geology, a fjord or fiord is a long, narrow inlet with steep sides or cliffs, created by a glacier. There are many fjords on the coasts of Alaska, Antarctica, British Columbia, Chile, Denmark, Greenland, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Ireland, Kamchatka, the Kerguelen Islands, New Zealand, Norway, Novaya Zemlya, Labrador, Nunavut, Newfoundland, Quebec, Scotland, South Georgia Island, Isla de los Estados, and Washington state. Norway's coastline is estimated at 29,000 kilometres (18,000 mi) with nearly 1,200 fjords, but only 2,500 kilometres (1,600 mi) when fjords are excluded.

Estuary Partially enclosed coastal body of brackish water with river stream flow, and with a free connection to the sea

An estuary is a partially enclosed coastal body of brackish water with one or more rivers or streams flowing into it, and with a free connection to the open sea. Estuaries form a transition zone between river environments and maritime environments and are an example of an ecotone. Estuaries are subject both to marine influences such as tides, waves, and the influx of saline water and to riverine influences such as flows of freshwater and sediment. The mixing of seawater and freshwater provides high levels of nutrients both in the water column and in sediment, making estuaries among the most productive natural habitats in the world.

Coral reef Outcrop of rock in the sea formed by the growth and deposit of stony coral skeletons

A coral reef is an underwater ecosystem characterized by reef-building corals. Reefs are formed of colonies of coral polyps held together by calcium carbonate. Most coral reefs are built from stony corals, whose polyps cluster in groups.

Shoal Natural submerged sandbank that rises from a body of water to near the surface

In oceanography, geomorphology, and geoscience, a shoal is a natural submerged ridge, bank, or bar that consists of, or is covered by, sand or other unconsolidated material and rises from the bed of a body of water to near the surface. It often refers to those submerged ridges, banks, or bars that rise near enough to the surface of a body of water as to constitute a danger to navigation. Shoals are also known as sandbanks, sandbars, or gravelbars. Two or more shoals that are either separated by shared troughs or interconnected by past or present sedimentary and hydrographic processes are referred to as a shoal complex.

Landforms are categorized by characteristic physical attributes such as their creating process, shape, elevation, slope, orientation, rock exposure, and soil type.

Longshore drift Sediment moved by the longshore current

Longshore drift from longshore current is a geological process that consists of the transportation of sediments along a coast parallel to the shoreline, which is dependent on the angle incoming wave direction. Oblique incoming wind squeezes water along the coast, and so generates a water current which moves parallel to the coast. Longshore drift is simply the sediment moved by the longshore current. This current and sediment movement occur within the surf zone. The process is also known as littoral drift.

Barrier island Coastal dune landform that forms by wave and tidal action parallel to the mainland coast

Barrier islands are coastal landforms and a type of dune system that are exceptionally flat or lumpy areas of sand that form by wave and tidal action parallel to the mainland coast. They usually occur in chains, consisting of anything from a few islands to more than a dozen. They are subject to change during storms and other action, but absorb energy and protect the coastlines and create areas of protected waters where wetlands may flourish. A barrier chain may extend uninterrupted for over a hundred kilometers, excepting the tidal inlets that separate the islands, the longest and widest being Padre Island of Texas. Sometimes an important inlet may close permanently, transforming an island into a peninsula, thus creating a barrier peninsula. The length and width of barriers and overall morphology of barrier coasts are related to parameters including tidal range, wave energy, sediment supply, sea-level trends, and basement controls. The amount of vegetation on the barrier has a large impact on the height and evolution of the island.

Lake Illawarra

Lake Illawarra, an open and trained intermediate wave dominated barrier estuary or large coastal lagoon, is located in the Illawarra region of New South Wales, situated about 100 kilometres (62 mi) south of Sydney, Australia.

Gulf of Honduras A large inlet of the Caribbean Sea, indenting the coasts of Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras.

The Gulf or Bay of Honduras is a large inlet of the Caribbean Sea, indenting the coasts of Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras. From north to south, it runs for approximately 200 km from Dangriga, Belize, to La Ceiba, Honduras.

Body of water Any significant accumulation of water, generally on a planets surface

A body of water or waterbody is any significant accumulation of water, generally on a planet's surface. The term most often refers to oceans, seas, and lakes, but it includes smaller pools of water such as ponds, wetlands, or more rarely, puddles. A body of water does not have to be still or contained; rivers, streams, canals, and other geographical features where water moves from one place to another are also considered bodies of water.

Bombetoka Bay

Bombetoka Bay is a bay on the northwestern coast of Madagascar near the city of Mahajanga, where the Betsiboka River flows into the Mozambique Channel. Numerous islands and sandbars have formed in the estuary from the large amount of sediment carried in by the Betsiboka River and have been shaped by the flow of the river and the push and pull of tides.

Marine ecosystem Ecosystem in saltwater environment

Marine ecosystems are the largest of Earth's aquatic ecosystems and exist in waters that have a high salt content. These systems contrast with freshwater ecosystems, which have a lower salt content. Marine waters cover more than 70% of the surface of the Earth and account for more than 97% of Earth's water supply and 90% of habitable space on Earth. Seawater has an average salinity of 35 parts per thousand of water. Actual salinity varies among different marine ecosystems. Marine ecosystems can be divided into many zones depending upon water depth and shoreline features. The oceanic zone is the vast open part of the ocean where animals such as whales, sharks, and tuna live. The benthic zone consists of substrates below water where many invertebrates live. The intertidal zone is the area between high and low tides. Other near-shore (neritic) zones can include mudflats, seagrass meadows, mangroves, rocky intertidal systems, salt marshes, coral reefs, lagoons. In the deep water, hydrothermal vents may occur where chemosynthetic sulfur bacteria form the base of the food web.

The following outline is provided as an overview of and introduction to Oceanography.

Fringing reef Type of coral reef

A fringing reef is one of the three main types of coral reef. It is distinguished from the other main types, barrier reefs and atolls, in that it has either an entirely shallow backreef zone (lagoon) or none at all. If a fringing reef grows directly from the shoreline, then the reef flat extends to the beach and there is no backreef. In other cases, fringing reefs may grow hundreds of yards from shore and contain extensive backreef areas within which it contains food and water, examples are Philippines, Indonesia, Timor-Leste, the western coast of Australia, the Caribbean, East Africa, and Red Sea. Charles Darwin believed that fringing reefs are the first kind of reefs to form around a landmass in a long-term reef growth process. The largest fringing coral reef in the world is the Ningaloo Reef, stretching to around 260 km (160 mi) along the coastline of Western Australia.

Marine habitats Habitat that supports marine life

Marine habitats are habitats that support marine life. Marine life depends in some way on the saltwater that is in the sea. A habitat is an ecological or environmental area inhabited by one or more living species. The marine environment supports many kinds of these habitats. Marine habitats can be divided into coastal and open ocean habitats. Coastal habitats are found in the area that extends from as far as the tide comes in on the shoreline out to the edge of the continental shelf. Most marine life is found in coastal habitats, even though the shelf area occupies only seven percent of the total ocean area. Open ocean habitats are found in the deep ocean beyond the edge of the continental shelf.

Estuaries of Australia are features of the Australian coastline. They are linked to tides, river mouths and coastal features and conditions. In many cases the features of estuaries are also named inlets.

Laguna de Tacarigua National Park Protected area with the status of a national park located east of Miranda State, in the South American country of Venezuela

The Laguna de Tacarigua National Park Also Tacarigua Lagoon National Park Is a protected area with the status of a national park located east of Miranda State, in the South American country of Venezuela. It comprises a permanent coastal lagoon of 7800 ha and 1.2 m of average depth, separated from the sea by a restinga or coastal barrier of 28.8 km long and 300–1000 m wide that was formed by the action of the sea current Which runs along the coast in an East-West direction.

Hapua

Hapua is the Māori term for river-mouth lagoons on mixed sand and gravel (MSG) beaches which form at the river-coast interface where a typically braided, although sometimes meandering, river interacts with a coastal environment that is significantly affected by longshore drift. The lagoons which form on the MSG coastlines are common on the east coast of the South Island of New Zealand and have long been referred to as hapua by the Māori. This classification differentiates hapua from similar lagoons located on the New Zealand coast termed waituna. Hapua are often located on paraglacial coastal areas where there is a low level of coastal development and minimal population density. Hapua form as the river carves out an elongated coast-parallel area, blocked from the sea by a MSG barrier which constantly alters its shape and volume due to longshore drift. Longshore drift continually extends the barrier behind which the hapua forms by transporting sediment along the coast. Hapua are defined as a narrow shore-parallel extensions of the coastal riverbed. They discharge the majority of stored water to the ocean via an ephemeral and highly mobile drainage channel or outlet. The remainder percolates through the MSG barrier due to its high levels of permeability. Hapua systems are driven by a wide range of dynamic processes that are generally classified as fluvial or marine; changes in the balance between these processes as well as the antecedent barrier conditions can cause shifts in the morphology of the hapua, in particular the barrier. New Zealand examples include the Rakaia, Ashburton and Hurunui river-mouths.

Estuaries of Texas Estuaries on the Gulf coast of Texas

The U.S. state of Texas has a series of estuaries along its coast on the Gulf of Mexico, most of them bounded by the Texas barrier islands. Estuaries are coastal bodies of water in which freshwater from rivers mixes with saltwater from the sea. Twenty-one drainage basins terminate along the Texas coastline, forming a chain of seven major and five minor estuaries: listed from southwest to northeast, these are the Rio Grande Estuary, Laguna Madre, the Nueces Estuary, the Mission–Aransas Estuary, the Guadalupe Estuary, the Colorado–Lavaca Estuary, East Matagorda Bay, the San Bernard River and Cedar Lakes Estuary, the Brazos River Estuary, Christmas Bay, the Trinity–San Jacinto Estuary, and the Sabine–Neches Estuary. Each estuary is named for its one or two chief contributing rivers, excepting Laguna Madre, East Matagorda Bay, and Christmas Bay, which have no major river sources. The estuaries are also sometimes referred to by the names of their respective primary or central water bodies, though each also includes smaller secondary bays, inlets, or other marginal water bodies.

References

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