Water temperature and the distribution of various chemicals measured during surveys from June 7 to October 30, 1956, reflect a highly variable and rapidly changing circulation in Saginaw Bay, Lake Huron. The circulation is influenced strongly by local winds and by the stronger circulation of Lake Huron which frequently causes injections of lake water to the inner extremity of the bay. The circulation patterns determined at six times during 1956 reflect the general characteristics of a marine estuary of the northern hemisphere. The prevailing circulation was counterclockwise; the higher concentrations of solutes from the Saginaw River tended to flow and enter Lake Huron along the south shore; water from Lake Huron entered the northeast section of the bay and had a dominant influence on the water along the north shore of the bay.
The concentrations of major ions varied little with depth, but a decrease from the inner bay toward Lake Huron reflected the dilution of Saginaw River water as it moved out of the bay. Concentrations in the outer bay were not much greater than in Lake Huron proper. The proportions of various cations and anions were similar to the average proportions for the freshwaters of the world.
The average flushing time was 186 days, but was 113 days during the period of peak river discharge. The lakeward transport of Saginaw River water ranged from 619 to 2,294 feet per day in the inner bay to 1,410 to 3,000 feet per day in the outer bay on June 7 and October 30, respectively.