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Characteristics of suspended and streambed sediment within constructed chutes and the main channel at Upper Hamburg and Glovers Point Bends, Missouri River, Nebraska, 2008

April 12, 2011

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District, as part of the Missouri River Bank Stabilization and Navigation Mitigation Project, has constructed 17 off-channel chutes along the channelized Missouri River, downstream from Sioux City, Iowa, to increase habitat diversity. To better understand characteristics of suspended and streambed sediment within these constructed chutes, the U.S. Geological Survey investigated specific aspects of chute design and function in relation to sediment characteristics including: (1) effects of inlet structures; (2) changes occurring between the inlet and the outlet of a chute; (3) effects of chutes on sediment characteristics in the main channel; and (4) differences in chute dynamics between sampled chutes. Two chutes differing in design, location, and dynamics were studied, Upper Hamburg Bend near Nebraska City, Nebr., and Glovers Point Bend near Winnebago, Nebr. Each site was characterized using five or more sampling transects (two in the chute and three to four in the main channel) designed to bracket sediment exchanges between chutes and the main channel. A sixth transect was included at the Upper Hamburg Bend study site to account for the effects of a nontarget chute having its inlet midway between the inlet and outlet of the primary chute. Representative samples of suspended and streambed sediment were collected at each transect, along with measurements of turbidity and streamflow, between June and November 2008. Four sets of samples were collected at the Glovers Point Bend study site and five sample sets were collected from the Upper Hamburg Bend study site. Results from paired t-tests and standard t-tests indicated that the inlet structure design, passing inflow only from the top of the main-channel water column, reduced the supply of coarse-grained suspended sediment entering the chutes. Statistical comparisons did not indicate differences between the inlet and outlet of either chute; however, anecdotal evidence of recent bank erosion and in-channel deposition was observed in both chutes during the study period. Chutes had little effect on Missouri River main-channel sediment characteristics, which could be explained by the much greater streamflow of the main channel. Between-chute comparisons showed no significant differences in the suspended-sediment characteristics; however, the Upper Hamburg Bend chute had a coarser streambed, wider channel, and much greater streamflow than did the Glovers Point Bend chute.

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