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Interim guidance for calibration checks on a submersible acoustic backscatter sediment sensor

May 1, 2023

Over the past two decades, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and other agencies have pioneered the use of active acoustic sensors to monitor suspended-sediment concentrations and particle sizes in rivers and streams at the subdaily time scale. The LISST-ABS submersible acoustic backscatter sediment sensor (or “ABS sensor”) was developed by Sequoia Scientific, Inc., as an alternative to turbidity sensors for monitoring suspended-sediment concentrations in surface waters. The ABS sensor is different than traditional active acoustic instruments because it is small, lower in cost, lightweight, and requires less power; and the sampling volume is within the first 15 centimeters of the transducer face. Initial testing by the USGS indicated the ABS sensor had utility as a novel, cost-effective, off-the-shelf tool for monitoring suspended-sediment concentration in surface waters, and its use within the agency has increased in since its introduction around 2016. However, initial testing did not account for the potential of transducer calibration drift over longer deployments.

As part of its mission to unify and standardize research and development activities of Federal agencies involved in fluvial sediment studies, the Federal Interagency Sedimentation Project partnered with the USGS Wyoming-Montana and New Mexico Water Science Centers to examine the potential for use of standard, low-tech laboratory equipment to perform calibration checks on ABS sensors on long-term deployments. The experiments were intended to provide USGS scientists and the public with interim guidance to assist in operating and maintaining the ABS sensor.

Publication Year 2023
Title Interim guidance for calibration checks on a submersible acoustic backscatter sediment sensor
DOI 10.3133/ofr20231039
Authors Jason S. Alexander, Jonathan P. O'Connell, Jeb E. Brown
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Open-File Report
Series Number 2023-1039
Index ID ofr20231039
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization New Mexico Water Science Center; Wyoming-Montana Water Science Center