The effect of unsteadiness or dam releases on velocity and longitudinal dispersion of flow was evaluated by injecting a fluorescent dye into the Colorado River below Glen Canyon Dam and sampling for dye concentration at selected sites downstream. In Glen Canyon, average flow velocity through the study reach increased directly with discharge, but dispersion was greatest at the lowest of the three flows measured. In Grand Canyon, average flow velocity varied slightly from subreach to subreach at both steady and unsteady flow over the entire study reach. Also, longitudinal dispersion was not significantly different during steady and unsteady flow. Absence of tails on the curves shows that, at the measured flows, the eddies that are characteristic of the Grand Canyon reach do not trap water for a significant length of time. Data from the measurements were used to calibrate a one-dimensional now modeland a solute-transport model. The combined set of calibrated flow and solute-transport models was then used to predict velocity and dispersion at potential dam-release patterns.
Additional publication details
Measured and predicted velocity and longitudinal dispersion at steady and unsteady flow, Colorado River, Glen Canyon Dam to lake mead