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Instruments, methods, rationale, and derived data used to quantify and compare the trapping efficiencies of four types of pressure-difference bedload samplers

July 9, 2021

Bedload and ancillary data were collected to calculate and compare the bedload trapping efficiencies of four types of pressure-difference bedload samplers as part of episodic, sediment-recirculating flume experiments at the St. Anthony Falls Laboratory, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, in January–March 2006. The bedload-sampler experiments, which were conceived, organized, and led by the U.S. Geological Survey’s Office of Surface Water, were part of a broader suite of experiments performed in the rectangular, concrete-lined, sediment-recirculating Main Channel Facility (“main channel flume”). Collectively referred to as “StreamLab06,” the experiments were conducted under the auspices of the National Center for Earth-Surface Dynamics, University of Minnesota.

Four pressure-difference-type bedload samplers—a standard Helley-Smith, US BLH-84, Elwha, and Toutle River-2—were deployed by using hand-held rods in the main flume in a series of trials during steady flows as part of the first two of seven phases of the StreamLab06 experiments. The Phase I flows were released over a sand bed. Gravel composed the bed during the Phase II flows. Bedload samples were collected during flows ranging from 2.0 cubic meters per second (near the incipient motion of bed material) to 5.5 cubic meters per second. A total of 2,030 bedload samples were collected—1,000 as part of 19 sand-bed trials, and 1,030 as part of 27 gravel-bed trials.

Bedload was captured in five contiguous weigh drums inside a slot spanning the full width of the main flume channel 8.5 meters downstream from the cross-section in which the bedload samplers were deployed. The contents of each drum were automatically weighed and recorded as a time series about every 1.1 seconds. Each drum automatically, independently, and episodically dumped its contents into the bottom of the slot upon the accumulation of a pre-determined mass of entrapped sediment, after which the drum continued to capture and weigh bedload. An auger at the bottom of the slot evacuated the accumulating sediment to a side-channel pump that piped the captured sediments upstream and discharged them back to the flume.

Bedload-transport rates were calculated from measurements of the masses of material trapped by the bedload samplers and from the data produced by the automated bedload capture-and-weigh system of the main channel flume. These data were used to compute at-a-point and mean bedload-transport rates for subsequent use in developing bedload-trapping efficiency (calibration) coefficients for each bedload sampler and for comparing the relative trapping efficiencies of the manually deployed bedload samplers. The data were collected to enable the use of several computational methods for deriving bedload-trapping coefficients.

Continuous ancillary data including stage, water discharge, and water temperature were automatically collected and stored. Flow depths were manually measured and recorded concurrent with each at-a-point bedload-sampler deployment. Other information obtained during parts of the experiments included longitudinal water-surface slope, bedload particle-size distributions, and suspended-sediment concentrations and percent sand analyzed from samples collected by depth integration with a US DH-48 isokinetic suspended-sediment sampler.

This report describes the types and availability of the bedload and ancillary data derived through the StreamLab06 experiments. The data are available from the St. Anthony Falls Laboratory and the U.S. Geological Survey through a data release. Also included are selected descriptive and historical information as well as the background, experimental design, experimental caveats, and other factors relevant to the production of the bedload-transport and ancillary data produced through Phases I and II of the StreamLab06 experiments.