Using hydrophones as a surrogate monitoring technique to detect temporal and spatial variability in bedload transport

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Collecting physical bedload measurements is an expensive and time-consuming endeavor that rarely captures the spatial and temporal variability of sediment transport. Technological advances can improve monitoring of sediment transport by filling in temporal gaps between physical sampling periods. We have developed a low-cost hydrophone recording system designed to record the sediment-generated noise (SGN) resulting from collisions of coarse particles (generally larger than 4 mm) in gravel-bedded rivers. The sound level of the signal recorded by the hydrophone is assumed to be proportional to the magnitude of bedload transport as long as the acoustic frequency of the SGN is known, the grain-size distribution of the bedload is assumed constant, and the frequency band of the ambient noise is known and can be excluded from the analysis. Each system has two hydrophone heads and samples at half-hour intervals. Ten systems were deployed on the San Joaquin River, California, and its tributaries for ten months during water year 2014, and two systems were deployed during a flood event on the Gunnison River, Colorado in 2014. A mobile hydrophone system was also tested at both locations to collect longitudinal profiles of SGN. Physical samples of bedload were not collected in this study. In lieu of physical measurements, several audio recordings from each site were aurally reviewed to confirm the presence or absence of SGN, and hydraulic data were compared to historical measurements of bedload transport or transport capacity estimates to verify if hydraulic conditions during the study would likely produce bedload transport. At one site on the San Joaquin River, the threshold of movement was estimated to have occurred around 30 m 3 /s based on SGN data. During the Gunnison River flood event, continuous data showed clockwise hysteresis, indicating that bedload transport was generally less at any given streamflow discharge during the recession limb of the hydrograph. Spatial variability in transport was also detected in the longitudinal profiles audibly and using signal processing algorithms. These experiments demonstrate the ability of hydrophone technology to capture the temporal and spatial variability of sediment transport, which may be missed when samples are collected using conventional methods.

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Publication type Conference Paper
Publication Subtype Conference Paper
Title Using hydrophones as a surrogate monitoring technique to detect temporal and spatial variability in bedload transport
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher Joint Federal Interagency Conference
Contributing office(s) California Water Science Center
Description 12 p.
Conference Title 3rd Joint Federal Interagency Conference
Conference Location Reno, NV
Conference Date April 19-23, 2015
Country United States
State California, Colorado
Other Geospatial Gunnison River, San Joaquin River
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