Riverine fresh water outflows create coastal plumes that are distinguished from surrounding sea water by their specific spectral signature. Coastal waters are unique ecosystems, and they are very important in terms of living resources and oceanographic processes. River plumes and coastal turbid waters have important effects on coastal marine ecosystems, and they also influence marine life cycles, sediment distribution, and pollution. Remote sensing and digital image-processing techniques provide an effective tool to detect and monitor these plume zones over large areas. The primary goal of this study was automatic detection and monitoring of coastal plume zones using multispectral Landsat Thematic Mapper/Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (TM/ETM+) imagery. For that purpose, the proposed algorithm exploits spectral features of the multispectral images by using feature extraction and decision-making steps. The procedure has two main stages: (1) some pre-processing operations were applied to the images in order to extract the plume core reflectance values with maximum turbidity and offshore water mass reflectance values; (2) a k-means algorithm was applied with initial seed values of reflectance computed from the pre-processing stage to classify coastal plume zones. Spatial pattern and variability of optical characteristics of coastal plume zones were then defined following the results of the classification process. The algorithm was automatically applied in three different regions with three multispectral Landsat images acquired on different dates, and yielded a very high classification accuracy in detecting coastal plume zones.