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

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Abstract

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.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Conference Paper
Publication Subtype Conference Paper
Title In situ densimetric measurements as a surrogate for suspended-sediment concentrations in the Rio Puerco, New Mexico
Year Published 2015
Language English
Contributing office(s) New Mexico Water Science Center
Description 12 p.
Conference Title 10th Federal Interagency Sedimentation Conference / 5th Federal Interagency Hydrologic Modeling Conference
Conference Location Reno, NV
Conference Date April 19-23, 2015
Country United States
State New Mexico
Other Geospatial Rio Puerco