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Keywords:

  • clarity;
  • secchi disc transparency;
  • sediment resus-pension;
  • individual particle analysis;
  • mud boils

ABSTRACT: The degradation of the optical aesthetics in the mouth of Onondaga Creek, New York, that occurs during high flow periods as a result of the influx of large quantities of suspended solids, is documented. Features of the degradation include very low clarity (Secchi disc minimum of approximately 0.1 m) and a brown ‘muddy’ appearance. The reduced clarity is mostly a result of increased light scattering. Loading and concentration profiles obtained for an approximately 35 km interval above the creek mouth over a wide range of flow indicates most of the suspended solids received during runoff events is resuspended stream sediment and eroded bank material. Application of microscopy-based individual particle analysis techniques indicates that the origin of most of these deposits and much of the suspended solids during runoff events is point source inputs, termed ‘mud boils,’ located approximately 32 km upstream of the creek mouth.