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GCLAS: a graphical constituent loading analysis system

August 15, 2013

The U. S. Geological Survey has developed a program called GCLAS (Graphical Constituent Loading Analysis System) to aid in the computation of daily constituent loads transported in stream flow. Due to the relative paucity with which most water-quality data are collected, computation of daily constituent loads is moderately to highly dependent on human interpretation of the relation between stream hydraulics and constituent transport. GCLAS provides a visual environment for evaluating the relation between hydraulic and other covariate time series and the constituent chemograph. GCLAS replaces the computer program Sedcalc, which is the most recent USGS sanctioned tool for constructing sediment chemographs and computing suspended-sediment loads. Written in a portable language, GCLAS has an interactive graphical interface that permits easy entry of estimated values and provides new tools to aid in making those estimates. The use of a portable language for program development imparts a degree of computer platform independence that was difficult to obtain in the past, making implementation more straightforward within the USGS' s diverse computing environment. Some of the improvements introduced in GCLAS include (1) the ability to directly handle periods of zero or reverse flow, (2) the ability to analyze and apply coefficient adjustments to concentrations as a function of time, streamflow, or both, (3) the ability to compute discharges of constituents other than suspended sediment, (4) the ability to easily view data related to the chemograph at different levels of detail, and (5) the ability to readily display covariate time series data to provide enhanced visual cues for drawing the constituent chemograph.