Abstract

The mouth of the microtidal Miramichi estuary, New Brunswick, is enclosed by a barrier-island system which is cut by two major tidal inlets. The submarine morphology adjacent to these inlets indicates the presence of large tidal deltas which formed predominantly by tidal-current processes. The extensive shoal water on the landward side of the barrier is due to the landward transport of sand through the inlets and the deposition of this sand as coalescing flood-tidal delta deposits. The creation of an artificial channel inside the main inlet in the late 19th century, and its maintenance since that time, have resulted in substantial channel-flow bypassing of the natural channel seaward of the barrier. This promoted the scouring of a new channel through the ebb-tidal delta shoal.Large tidal deltas apparently are not common morphological features of estuaries on microtidal, barrier-island coastlines, but they do occur at the entrances of very large microtidal estuaries such as the Miramichi. In such cases they are usually completely subtidal, and much larger than tidal deltas of mesotidal estuaries reported in the literature. Rather than tidal range, the tidal prism, which takes into account both tidal range and estuary surface area, may play the major role in the formation of tidal deltas in both mesotidal and microtidal estuaries.

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