Tidal-flow, circulation, and flushing characteristics of Kings Bay, Citrus County, Florida

Open-File Report 96-230

, , and



Kings Bay is an estuary on the gulf coast of peninsular Florida with a surface area of less than one square mile. It is a unique estuarine system with no significant inflowing rivers or streams. As much as 99 percent of the freshwater entering the bay originates from multiple spring vents at the bottom of the estuary. The circulation and flushing characteristics of Kings Bay were evaluated by applying SIMSYS2D, a two-dimensional numerical model. Field data were used to calibrate and verify the model. Lagrangian particle simulations were used to determine the circulation characteristics for three hydrologic conditions: low inflow, typical inflow, and low inflow with reduced friction from aquatic vegetation. Spring discharge transported the particles from Kings Bay through Crystal River and out of the model domain. Tidal effects added an oscillatory component to the particle paths. The mean particle residence time was 59 hours for low inflow with reduced friction; therefore, particle residence time is affected more by spring discharge than by bottom friction. Circulation patterns were virtually identical for the three simulated hydroloigc conditions. Simulated particles introduced in the southern part of Kings Bay traveled along the eastern side of Buzzard Island before entering Crystal River and existing the model domain. The flushing characteristics of Kings Bay for the three hydrodynamic conditions were determined by simulating the injection of conservative dye constituents. The average concentration of dye initially injected in Kings Bay decreased asymptotically because of spring discharge, and the tide caused some oscillation in the average dye concentration. Ninety-five percent of the injected dye exited Kings Bay and Crystal River with 94 hours for low inflow, 71 hours for typical inflow, and 94 hours for low inflow with reduced bottom friction. Simulation results indicate that all of the open waters of Kings Bay are flushed by the spring discharge. Reduced bottom friction has little effect on flushing.

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Tidal-flow, circulation, and flushing characteristics of Kings Bay, Citrus County, Florida
Series title:
Open-File Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey ; Branch of Information Services [distributor],
vi, 63 p. :ill. ;28 cm.