Environmental characteristics of the Mandovi-Zuari estuarine system in Goa

Qasim, S. Z. ; Sen Gupta, R. (1981) Environmental characteristics of the Mandovi-Zuari estuarine system in Goa Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 13 (5). pp. 557-578. ISSN 0272-7714

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Official URL: http://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S03023...

Related URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0302-3524(81)80058-8


Two rivers, the Mandovi and the Zuari, with their interconnecting canal, form an estuarine system in Goa on the west coast of India. Physical, chemical and biological features of this estuary are adapted to a seasonal rhythm induced by the annual cycle of the monsoon. Heavy precipitation and land runoff from June to September bring about large changes in temperature, salinity, flow pattern, dissolved oxygen and nutrients when the estuary becomes freshwater dominated. The monsoon season (July–September) is followed by a recovery period during the post-monsoon season (October–January) and thereafter a stable period of the pre-monsoon season (February–May) when the estuary becomes marine dominated. During the pre-monsoon (dry) season, the water in the estuarine system remains well mixed and the intrusion of salt water is felt as far as 65 km upstream in both the rivers; but during the monsoon season the rivers become stratified and a salt wedge is formed in each river which extends up to about 10 km upstream in the Mandovi and 12 km in the Zuari. The flow of the estuarine system is regulated by the entry of seawater with the incoming tide through Zuari which reaches Mandovi through the canal. The flow is reversed during the outgoing tide when the estuarine system is flushed. Dilution factors in both the estuaries are similar and vary from 1·2 to 8; highest values occur during the pre-monsoon season. Two shoals/sand bars occur permanently in Mandovi (Aguada Bay) close to a ramp-like inlet to the sea. This inlet poses no navigational problems for about 9 months during the dry season; but for a 3-month period during the monsoon, the waterway becomes hazardous and is closed to boat traffic. Heavy swell and intense wave activity lead to the transfer of sediments into the navigational inlet and the calm season brings the materials back to their original position with practically no overall change in the bathymetry of the bay. The oxygen cycle in the estuarine system is closely related to seasonal changes in temperature and bears an inverse relationship with salinity. In both the estuaries, the sulphate/chlorinity relationship remains uniform and similar to that of the sea except during the monsoon months when the relationship gets disturbed. Changes in phosphorus, nitrogen and silicon are largely regulated by rainfall and land runoff. There is no significant difference in the phytoplankton counts between Mandovi and Zuari which follow a rhythm similar to that of nitrate. Zooplankton biomass is higher in Zuari because of its greater marine influence. No seasonal variation was observed in the density of microflora in the two rivers. Bacterial counts were higher in the lower reaches of the estuarine system and decreased upstream. From its environmental features, the estuarine system can be classified as a tide-dominated coastal plain estuary.

Item Type:Article
Source:Copyright of this article belongs to Elsevier Science.
Keywords:Estuaries; Physical Properties; Chemical Properties; Monsoons; Salt Wedge; Shoals; India Coast; Arabian Sea
ID Code:35286
Deposited On:06 Apr 2011 13:55
Last Modified:06 Apr 2011 13:55

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