This report presents analyses of suspended sediment and organic contaminants measured during a two-year study of the San Lorenzo River, central California, which discharges into the Pacific Ocean within the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Most suspended-sediment transport occurred during flooding caused by winter storms; 55 percent of the sediment load was transported by the river during a three-day flood in January 2010. Concentrations of polyaromatic hydrocarbons can exceed regulatory criteria during high-flow events in the San Lorenzo River. These results highlight the importance of episodic sediment and contaminant transport in steep, mountainous, coastal watersheds and emphasize the importance of understanding physical processes and quantifying chemical constituents in discharge from coastal watersheds on event-scale terms.
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USGS Numbered Series
Suspended sediment and organic contaminants in the San Lorenzo River, California, water years 2009-2010