Muddy Waters

Submitted: Sunday, Jul 11, 2010 at 09:03
ThreadID: 79986 Views:2567 Replies:9 FollowUps:5
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Can someone please explain why the waters off central Australia stay muddy,they can be stagnant for years and yet the mud is still suspended in the water. Coastal rivers may get muddy in flood but soon clear up and I did notice that the salty shallows of Lake Eyre were clear in 2009 yet the water coming in was very muddy.
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Reply By: roberttbruce - Sunday, Jul 11, 2010 at 09:11

Sunday, Jul 11, 2010 at 09:11
ok, I'll have a stab at this...

i dont know for sure why it is muddy but thinking about how thhe red-dust penetrates everything i would say it is because of the fineness of the grains of dust - gets everywhere when it dry
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Follow Up By: mikehzz - Sunday, Jul 11, 2010 at 09:26

Sunday, Jul 11, 2010 at 09:26
Sounds plausible. The fine particles may be light enough to float in suspension. The continual heating and cooling by the sun may set up some sort of convection current that keeps stirring it up. Or it could be lots of playful yabbies? Is there a brainiac in the house? Mike
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Follow Up By: mikehzz - Sunday, Jul 11, 2010 at 09:31

Sunday, Jul 11, 2010 at 09:31
Also come to think of it, the water is pretty 'hard' out there so things float easier, like the Dead Sea. That could keep the fine particles hanging longer?
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Reply By: Member - Andrew (QLD) - Sunday, Jul 11, 2010 at 09:28

Sunday, Jul 11, 2010 at 09:28
It's to do with the presence of colloidal clays (and silts) which are so fine that they remain in suspension. Some coastal rivers eg Fitzroy River circa Rockhampton are permanently "dirty" because of the presence of this colloidal clay.

If the particles are fine enough they will not settle. There may be an ionic effect on waters around Lake Eyre due to the salt content. The salt could effect the charge of the colloids creating a floculant effect, though i'm not sure of the science involved in this location.

Hope that helps
Andrew
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Follow Up By: mikehzz - Sunday, Jul 11, 2010 at 09:37

Sunday, Jul 11, 2010 at 09:37
Damn, I totally forgot about the floculent effect :-)
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Reply By: Battery Value Pty Ltd - Sunday, Jul 11, 2010 at 09:38

Sunday, Jul 11, 2010 at 09:38
it's about soil sodicity, and clay dispersion

some good info here

Best regards, Peter
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Reply By: Neil & Pauline - Sunday, Jul 11, 2010 at 12:37

Sunday, Jul 11, 2010 at 12:37
I am not an expert but I do know that if we had a dam that was very muddy we would pump in some salty water and it would settle. I expect this is the same with the central Australia rivers. They would be fresh and the coastal rivers would have a small amount of salt.

Neil
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Reply By: Member - Bentaxle - Sunday, Jul 11, 2010 at 13:16

Sunday, Jul 11, 2010 at 13:16
The salt acts as a floculant causing the fine silt particles to bind together forming lager particles which then sttle out a lot quicker, it can often be used to indicate if a water source is saline or fresh.
Mike
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Follow Up By: Member - Bentaxle - Sunday, Jul 11, 2010 at 19:23

Sunday, Jul 11, 2010 at 19:23
maybe I should have added that this only applies to still not flowing water.
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Reply By: Hairy (NT) - Sunday, Jul 11, 2010 at 14:32

Sunday, Jul 11, 2010 at 14:32
Gday,
Not Always?
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Reply By: Shaker - Sunday, Jul 11, 2010 at 14:49

Sunday, Jul 11, 2010 at 14:49
For this reason we carry powdered alum to use as a floculant to clear the muddy water, so that we can use it for washing clothes etc.
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Reply By: Teraa - Sunday, Jul 11, 2010 at 17:05

Sunday, Jul 11, 2010 at 17:05
I am no expert but the rivers going into the Northern end of Lake Eyre are only muddy while there is fresh flood water or local rain feeding them then they go clear and salty. Also The Diamintina is a choky brown and the Erye Creek is milky brown, with different land systems you also get different coloured waters. The Derwent Creek feeds through the Sturat Stoney red gibber and when it feeds the Warbuton it is reddy brown.
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Reply By: Member - Amy G (QLD) - Sunday, Jul 11, 2010 at 19:38

Sunday, Jul 11, 2010 at 19:38
The Battery man above is right- it's because of sodicity in the soil. At certain ratios of sodium ions (+1) to calcium or magnesium (+2) ions, the addition of fresh water can cause the fine clay particles in the soil to spontaneously disperse, giving muddy water. Sodic soil is very very common in Australia!
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Follow Up By: carlj - Sunday, Jul 11, 2010 at 19:53

Sunday, Jul 11, 2010 at 19:53
Thanks to all for their response
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