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Views and environmental issues in the Rochester - Monroe County area and environs. (Click thumbnails to view larger images.)

Irondequoit Bay Landfill
This is an oblique aerial view of one of the several landfills (bare ground upper right) around Irondequoit Bay that no longer are in operation. Such landfills had a negative impact on the environment, on groundwater resources, and on potential development and recreation. Some of the closed landfills have been the subject of long-term hazardous waste site studies by the State of NY under the NYSDEC-administered State Superfund Program. The pathways for surface or groundwater pollution are very dependent upon understanding the nature of the highly variable glacial geology of the region, as well as the fractured nature of shallow bedrock.

Akzo-Nobel Salt Mine Collapse (3 photos)
The Akzo-Nobel Salt mine collapsed in March 1994 in the Genesee Valley near Geneseo. The large mine flooded completely within two years and depleted groundwater resources in the valley aquifer over a north-south distance of approximately 20 miles. Recovery of groundwater levels was associated with marked deterioration of water quality in many deep wells. The collapse was caused by the expansion of a new (small pillar) mining method in untested portions of the mine located below a deep glacial valley filled with silt, sand, clay, gravel, and till. Surface ground subsidence near the initial collapse zone at Route 20A is shown in these 3 photos. The area will continue to subside slowly in the future and the potential impacts on groundwater issues and river erosion, due to gradient changes, are uncertain. Reference materials by the US Geological Survey and other authors are now available to document the details of this event and its aftermath.



Van Lare Sewage Treatment Plant
This aerial view shows the new sewage treatment facility for Rochester that is associated with the CSOAP (Combined Sewer Overflow Abatement Program) deep sewer tunnel construction project below the City of Rochester. This program, begun in the 1960's, has had a positive impact on the water quality in the Genesee River and other adjacent watersheds.

House sliding into Irondequoit Bay (2 photos)
This problem highlights some of the issues caused by the fine-grained, loosely consolidated glacial lake sediments that form the soils and surficial overburden surrounding Irondequoit Bay. Other information is described in the view of Bay Erosion (above). The soils beneath this particular house probably failed as the result of water saturation of sediments on a steep slope by a buried, leaking water supply pipe parallel to the access road above. The issue of whether the slide broke the pipe, or the leaking pipe caused the slide, was not resolved. Such conditions are typical of stability and land use problems associated with building and disturbances on steep, unstable slopes.


Genesee River Mouth
The sediment plume from the Genesee River mouth is clearly visible in this photograph. This sediment is directly linked to problems as diverse as beach closings on Lake Ontario and accelerated floodplain farmland erosion south of Rochester, especially downstream of the Mt Morris dam.

Geneseo Landslide (2 photos)
This 1970's landslide south of Rochester in the Genesee Valley occurred at a geologic contact between glacial till and slippery lake clays. The resulting landslide temporarily dammed the Genesee River, forming a shallow lake on the floodplain. The rotational failure of the riverbank was probably precipitated by gradual undercutting of the river channel on a curve. The slide also destroyed a portion of the local road, Oxbow Lane (Geneseo topographic Quadrangle).


Braddock Bay
The southern shoreline of Lake Ontario near Rochester is a good example of a drowned coastline, due to the postglacial rise of Lake Ontario, in part caused by postglacial uplift of the land, which increases to the northeast. This topic is the subject of an RCSI bulletin. The lake waters continue to rise at a rate that is nearly 1 foot per century. This condition and geologic history has produced the many shallow bays and marshes that characterize the shoreline near Rochester, a situation that also complicates issues related to artificial lake level control.

Mill Seat Landfill site in Riga
These two photographs show initial construction phases of the foundation and lining for the Monroe County Mill Seat landfill. Excavated into glacial till, the landfill was designed with an underlying plastic and clay barrier with leachate collection pipes set in a layer of permeable crushed rock. Escaping leachate would be collected and treated before it entered any underlying bedrock, overburden soils, or groundwater aquifers. The landfill is also surrounded by a series of groundwater monitoring wells.


Bay Erosion
The weakly consolidated sediments surrounding Irondequoit Bay are the result of sand, silt and clay deposition in the last major proglacial lake that existed about 12,500 years ago (glacial Lake Iroquois with Ridge Road shoreline feature located near 435 feet). The soft sediments are readily subject to erosion when the natural vegetation is removed, as well as by wave action, unusually high water levels, and boat wakes. Land-use zoning, shoreline modification, and recreational activities are important issues impacted by the local geology of these glacial lake deposits (see also house slide pictures on this page).

Irondequoit Bay Bridge
Foundation drilling studies for the construction of this bridge, begun in the 1960's, penetrated poorly mapped groundwater aquifers hidden below the recent Bay mud deposits and may have affected the water chemistry of the Webster groundwater supply. Chloride ions from road salt had accumulated in the deeper portions of the Bay and may have entered the aquifer through unsealed test wells.

Tully Mud Boils (three photos)
The Tully Valley, south of Syracuse, is the site of a solution mining disaster, including surface collapse zones, upwelling of saline and muddy groundwater into local streams (mud boil pictures), probable triggering of recent landslides, and disruption of roads and utilities. Solution mining of salt in the region, now abandoned, may have many parallels with conditions to be anticipated in the future near the Akzo-Nobel mine in the Genesee Valley.



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