The diverse character of fluvial sediments makes the choice of laboratory analysis somewhat arbitrary and the pressing of sediment samples difficult. This report presents some theories and methods used by the Water Resources Division for analysis of fluvial sediments to determine the concentration of suspended-sediment samples and the particle-size distribution of both suspended-sediment and bed-material samples. Other analyses related to these determinations may include particle shape, mineral content, and specific gravity, the organic matter and dissolved solids of samples, and the specific weight of soils.
The merits and techniques of both the evaporation and filtration methods for concentration analysis are discussed. Methods used for particle-size analysis of suspended-sediment samples may include the sieve pipet, the VA tube-pipet, or the BW tube-VA tube depending on the equipment available, the concentration and approximate size of sediment in the sample, and the settling medium used. The choice of method for most bed-material samples is usually limited to procedures suitable for sand or to some type of visual analysis for large sizes.
Several tested forms are presented to help insure a well-ordered system in the laboratory to handle the samples, to help determine the kind of analysis required for each, to conduct the required processes, and to assist in the required computations. Use of the manual should further 'standardize' methods of fluvial sediment analysis among the many laboratories and thereby help to achieve uniformity and precision of the data.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Laboratory theory and methods for sediment analysis
Techniques of Water-Resources Investigations
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