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In situ densimetric measurements as a surrogate for suspended-sediment concentrations in the Rio Puerco, New Mexico

July 23, 2015

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.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2015
Title In situ densimetric measurements as a surrogate for suspended-sediment concentrations in the Rio Puerco, New Mexico
DOI
Authors Jeb E. Brown, John R. Gray, Nancy J. Hornewer
Publication Type Conference Paper
Publication Subtype Conference Paper
Series Title
Series Number
Index ID 70154755
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization New Mexico Water Science Center

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