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The Hydrography and Sediments of the Gulf of Venezuela

John M. Zeigler
Limnology and Oceanography
Vol. 9, No. 3 (Jul., 1964), pp. 397-411
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2833484
Page Count: 15
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The Hydrography and Sediments of the Gulf of Venezuela
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Abstract

It is the object of this paper to examine the sediments of the Gulf of Venezuela and to relate them to the hydrography. The hydrography is, therefore, described in some detail. New data support the general conclusions of Redfield (1955) that the Gulf of Venezuela and Calabozo Bay operate as two estuarine cells driven by the trade winds and by outflow from Lake Maracaibo. New data also show that water enters the Outer Gulf from the northwest and flows at mid-depths towards the southeast in response to upwelling taking place off the coast of Paraguana. Sediment parameters that reflect circulation best are shells of pelagic foraminifera, sand distribution, and silt clay distribution. Of unknown importance is the distribution of resistant fecal pellets and the distribution of carbonate (shell material). The distribution of foraminifera indicated that water does not enter Calabozo Bay over the central part of the sill but rather along both coasts. The silt clay distribution reflects an outflow of water from Calabozo Bay into the Outer Gulf over the sill, a flow that had been first seen in the hydrographic stations. Rainfall data showed the great dependence of water character in the Gulf of Venezuela on rainfall and outflow from Lake Maracaibo. Hydrographic stations made in 1958 following a protracted dry period showed differences in salinity of 1-3%. between stations occupied in 1954 that were taken following 2 months of heavy rainfall.

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