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Latin american journal of aquatic research

On-line version ISSN 0718-560X


GARCES-VARGAS, José et al. Hydrographic features of Valdivia river estuary south-central Chile. Lat. Am. J. Aquat. Res. [online]. 2013, vol.41, n.1, pp.113-125. ISSN 0718-560X.

The area between 37° and 41°S of the southeastern Pacific coast, have a great number of microtidal (tidal range less than 2 m) estuaries. One of the most important estuaries in these latitudes is the Valdivia River estuary, whose thermal and haline structure is poorly known. Thus, this work, through hydrographic measurements of temperature and salinity taken during an annual seasonal cycle and the analysis of the main forcings (tide, river flow, wind and solar radiation) explain the variability and its changes in vertical stratification. The analysis of the the thermohaline structure of the water column revealed that the estuary varied seasonally behaving like a salt-wedge estuary in winter and spring due to a higher flow of tributaries. However, in summer and autumn behaved as partially mixed due the lower river flow. In winter and spring the water column showed a temperature inversion which was associated with a large surface heat loss and subsurface advection of warm waters from the adjacent ocean to into the estuary that is not mixed with the surface due to intense stratification by salinity. The change in the estuarine salt-wedge regime to partially mixed according to the season and the presence of thermal inversion seasonal are necessary hydrographic features to implement conservation efforts of vulnerable habitat into the zone (nursery areas of juvenile species), and use of this system for aquaculture activities and marine resources management.

Keywords : hydrography; buoyancy; mixing; thermal inversion; Valdivia river; Chile.

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