Remediation of Mudboil Discharges in the Tully Valley of Central New York

Open-File Report 2009-1173




Mudboils have been documented in the Tully Valley in Onondaga County, in central New York State, since the late 1890s and have continuously discharged sediment-laden (turbid) water into nearby Onondaga Creek since the 1950s. The discharge of sediment causes gradual land-surface subsidence that, in the past, necessitated rerouting a major petroleum pipeline and a buried telephone cable, and caused two road bridges to collapse. The turbid water discharged from mudboils can be either fresh or brackish (salty). Mudboil activity was first reported in the Syracuse, NY, Post Standard in a short article dated October 19, 1899: 'Tully Valley - A Miniature Volcano Few people are aware of the existence of a volcano in this town. It is a small one, to be sure, but very interesting. In the 20-rod gorge where the crossroad leads by the Tully Valley grist mill the hard highway bed has been rising foot after foot till the apex of a cone which has been booming has broken open and quicksand and water flow down the miniature mountain sides. It is an ever increasing cone obliterating wagon tracks as soon as crossed. The nearby bluff is slowly sinking. Probably the highway must sometime be changed on account of the sand and water volcano, unless it ceases its eruption.' This newspaper article accurately describes mudboil activity and presages the collapse of the Otisco Road bridge, 92 years later in 1991. The article indicates that land subsidence occurred nearby, but gives no indication that Onondaga Creek was turbid; this was either an oversight by the reporter or was not a concern at that time.

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USGS Numbered Series
Remediation of Mudboil Discharges in the Tully Valley of Central New York
Series title:
Open-File Report
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U.S. Geological Survey
Contributing office(s):
New York Water Science Center
8 p.