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A simple low-cost approach for transport parameter determination in mountain rivers

November 3, 2021

A simplified low-cost approach to experimentally determine transport parameters in mountain rivers is described, with an emphasis on the longitudinal dispersion coefficient (DL). The approach is based on a slug injection of table salt (NaCl) as a tracer and specific conductance readings at different locations downstream of the injection spot. Observed specific conductance readings are fit using the advection-dispersion equation with OTIS-P, yielding estimates of cross-sectional area and longitudinal dispersion coefficient for various stream reaches. Estimates of the DL are used to assess the accuracy of several empirical equations reported in the literature. This allowed the determination of complementary transport parameters related to transient storage zones. The empirical equations yielded rather high DL values, with some reaching up an order of magnitude higher to those obtained from tracer additions and OTIS-P. Overall, the proposed approach seems reliable and pertinent for river reaches of ca. 150 m in length.

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