Surrogate measurements of suspended-sediment concentration (SSC) are increasingly used to provide continuous, high-resolution, and demonstrably accurate data at a reasonable cost. Densimetric data, calculated from the difference between two in situ pressure measurements, exploit variations in real-time streamflow densities to infer SSCs. Unlike other suspendedsediment surrogate technologies based on bulk or digital optics, laser, or hydroacoustics, the accuracy of SSC data estimated using the pressure-difference (also referred to as densimetric) surrogate technology theoretically improves with increasing SCCs. Coupled with streamflow data, continuous suspended-sediment discharges can be calculated using SSC data estimated in real-time using the densimetric technology.
The densimetric technology was evaluated at the Rio Puerco in New Mexico, a stream where SSC values regularly range from 10,000-200,000 milligrams per liter (mg/L) and have exceeded 500,000 mg/L. The constant-flow dual-orifice bubbler measures pressure using two precision pressure-transducer sensors at vertically aligned fixed locations in a water column. Water density is calculated from the temperature-compensated differential pressure and SSCs are inferred from the density data.
A linear regression model comparing density values to field-measured SSC values yielded an R² of 0.74. Although the application of the densimetric surrogate is likely limited to fluvial systems with SSCs larger than about 10,000 mg/L, based on this and previous studies, the densimetric technology fills a void for monitoring streams with high SSCs.
|Title||In situ densimetric measurements as a surrogate for suspended-sediment concentrations in the Rio Puerco, New Mexico|
|Authors||Jeb E. Brown, John R. Gray, Nancy J. Hornewer|
|Publication Type||Conference Paper|
|Publication Subtype||Conference Paper|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||New Mexico Water Science Center|