Geologic Structure and Hydrodynamics of Egmont Channel: An Anomalous Inlet at the Mouth of Tampa Bay, Florida

Document Type


Publication Date


Digital Object Identifier (DOI)



High-resolution bathymetry surveys of Egmont Channel were conducted in 1999 and 2001 using a Kongsberg Simrad EM 3000 multibeam bathymetric system. These data were supplemented with other bathymetry data, seismic profiles, underwater scuba observations, and current velocity data, in order to investigate the geologic and hydrodynamic characteristics of Egmont Channel.

Bounded to the north by a linear steep scarp (∼38°) and by a more gradual slope (>10°) to the south Egmont Channel is an asymmetric tidal inlet and the main shipping channel for Tampa Bay, Florida.

The cross sectional area (17,964 m2) and the tidal prism (6×108 m3) for Egmont Channel were derived in this study. Currents measured at Egmont Deep and the Sunshine Skyway Bridge (∼11 km away) with Acoustic Doppler Current Profilers, have a high correlation (97%) indicating the current velocities at Sunshine Skyway Bridge can be used as a proxy for current velocities at Egmont Deep. Seismic profile data indicate that both the mouth of Tampa Bay and the bay proper contain many stratigraphically controlled depressions. Egmont Deep is located at one of these depressions. Bathymetry and seismic data indicate that the main ebb jet for Egmont Channel is deflected northward by a local stratigraphic high located at the north end of Egmont Key.

The repeated high-resolution multibeam bathymetric surveys document sediment bedform migration. The bottom characteristics of the deep fluctuate due to the erosion and deposition of gravelwaves. Analysis of seismic data and SCUBA observations suggest that the most likely origin for Egmont Deep is a combination of erosion-resistant limestone strata interspersed with pockets of dissolution which is overlain by an irregular bed of mobile sediments. The strong tidal current scour maintains the depth of the feature and assures that any sediment that becomes incorporated in the deep is short-lived.

Was this content written or created while at USF?


Citation / Publisher Attribution

Journal of Coastal Research, v. 21, issue 2, p. 331-357