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State of the science and decision support for measuring suspended sediment with acoustic instrumentation

May 24, 2023

Acoustic instrumentation can be used to provide time-series and discrete estimates of suspended-sediment concentration, load, and sediment particle sizes in fluvial systems, which are essential for creating informed solutions to many sediment-related environmental, engineering, and land management concerns. Historically, scientists have developed relations between suspended sediment characteristics and other parameters, most commonly streamflow, to estimate sediment information when physical sediment samples cannot be collected. Approaches using streamflow can have substantial accuracy limitations because of hysteresis effects, giving rise to the use of more direct surrogate approaches such as acoustic methods. Interagency efforts in recent years have advanced the testing, methods development, operational guidelines, and training on acoustic methods for measuring suspended sediment. Scientists interested in using these methods are faced with many decisions on the type of application and deployment: horizontal profiling, vertical profiling, or point acoustic instruments; single or multifrequency instruments; continuous or discrete sediment measurements; and fixed or mobile instrument deployments. To promote cost-effective, accurate, and high-resolution fluvial sediment data for the Nation, the interagency Sediment Acoustic Leadership Team (SALT) develops technical guidance and training for using acoustic instruments to measure aquatic sediment. Even though acoustic instrumentation has been used successfully to measure suspended-sediment characteristics throughout the world, some deployments have been unsuccessful because of limited technical guidance and selection of an inappropriate method. To guide decisions on method selection, the SALT has compiled the state of the science for the main types of acoustics-based suspended-sediment measurement methods in development, testing, and use, and has created a flowchart to guide method selection.

Publication Year 2023
Title State of the science and decision support for measuring suspended sediment with acoustic instrumentation
Authors Molly S. Wood, Joel T. Groten, Timothy D. Straub, Dan R.W. Haught, Ronald E. Griffiths, Justin A. Boldt, Zulimar Lucena, Jeb E. Brown, Steven E. Suttles, Patrick J. Dickhudt
Publication Type Conference Paper
Publication Subtype Conference Paper
Index ID 70246302
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization California Water Science Center; Idaho Water Science Center; Southwest Biological Science Center; Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center; Central Midwest Water Science Center; WMA - Observing Systems Division; Upper Midwest Water Science Center