Accurate measurements of suspended-sediment concentration require suspended-sediment samplers to operate isokinetically, within an intake-efficiency range of 1.0 ± 0.10, where intake efficiency is defined as the ratio of the velocity of the water through the sampler intake to the local ambient stream velocity. Local ambient stream velocity is defined as the velocity of the water in the river at the location of the nozzle, unaffected by the presence of the sampler. Results from Federal Interagency Sedimentation Project (FISP) laboratory experiments published in the early 1940s show that when the intake efficiency is less than 1.0, suspended-sediment samplers tend to oversample sediment relative to water, leading to potentially large positive biases in suspended-sediment concentration that are positively correlated with grain size. Conversely, these experiments show that, when the intake efficiency is greater than 1.0, suspended‑sediment samplers tend to undersample sediment relative to water, leading to smaller negative biases in suspended-sediment concentration that become slightly more negative as grain size increases.
The majority of FISP sampler development and testing since the early 1990s has been conducted under highly uniform flow conditions via flume and slack-water tow tests, with relatively little work conducted under the greater levels of turbulence that exist in actual rivers. Additionally, all of this recent work has been focused on the hydraulic characteristics and intake efficiencies of these samplers, with no field investigations conducted on the accuracy of the suspended-sediment data collected with these samplers. When depth-integrating suspended-sediment samplers are deployed under the more nonuniform and turbulent conditions that exist in rivers, multiple factors may contribute to departures from isokinetic sampling, thus introducing errors into the suspended-sediment data collected by these samplers that may not be predictable on the basis of flume and tow tests alone.
This study has three interrelated goals. First, the intake efficiencies of the older US D-77 bag-type and newer, FISP-approved US D-96-type1 depth-integrating suspended‑sediment samplers are evaluated at multiple cross‑sections under a range of actual-river conditions. The intake efficiencies measured in these actual-river tests are then compared to those previously measured in flume and tow tests. Second, other physical effects, mainly water temperature and the duration of sampling at a vertical, are examined to determine whether these effects can help explain observed differences in intake efficiency both between the two types of samplers and between the laboratory and field tests. Third, the signs and magnitudes of the likely errors in suspendedsand concentration in measurements made with both types of samplers are predicted based the intake efficiencies of these two types of depth-integrating samplers. Using the relative difference in isokinetic sampling observed between the US D-77 bag-type and D-96-type samplers during river tests, measured differences in suspended-sediment concentration in a variety of size classes were evaluated between paired equal-discharge-increment (EDI) and equal-width-increment (EWI) measurements made with these two types of samplers to determine whether these differences in concentration are consistent with the differences in concentrations expected on the basis of the 1940s FISP laboratory experiments. In addition, sequential single-vertical depth-integrated samples were collected (concurrent with velocity measurements) with the US D-96-type bag sampler and two different rigidcontainer samplers to evaluate whether the predicted errors in suspended-sand concentrations measured with the US D-96- type sampler are consistent with those expected on the basis of the 1940s FISP laboratory experiments.
Results from our study indicate that the intake efficiency of the US D-96-type sampler is superior to that of the US D-77 bag-type sampler under actual-river conditions, with overall performance of the US D-96-type sampler being closer to, yet still typically below, the FISP-acceptable range of isokinetic operation. These results are in contrast to the results from FISP-conducted flume tests that showed that both the US D-77 bag-type and US D-96-type samplers sampled isokinetically in the laboratory. Results from our study indicate that the single largest problem with the behavior of both the US D-77 bag-type and the US D-96-type samplers under actual‑river conditions is that both samplers are prone to large time‑dependent decreases in intake efficiency as sampling duration increases. In the case of the US D-96-type sampler, this problem may be at least partially overcome by shortening the duration of sampling (or, instead, perhaps by a simple design improvement); in the case of the US D-77 bag-type sampler, although shortening the sampling duration improves the intake efficiency, it does not bring it into agreement with the FISP‑accepted range of isokinetic operation.
The predicted errors in suspended-sand concentration in EDI or EWI measurements made with the US-96-type sampler are much smaller than those associated with EDI or EWI measurements made with the US D-77 bag-type sampler, especially when the results are corrected for the effects of water temperature and sampling duration. The bias in the concentration in each size class measured using the US D-77 bag-type relative to the concentration measured using the US D-96-type sampler behaves in a manner consistent with that expected on the basis of the observed differences in intake efficiency between the two samplers in conjunction with the results from the 1940s FISP laboratory experiments. In addition, the bias in the concentration in each size class measured using the US D-96‑type sampler relative to the concentration measured using the truly isokinetic rigid-container samplers is in excellent agreement with that predicted on the basis of the 1940s FISP laboratory experiments. Because suspended-sediment samplers can respond differently between laboratory and field conditions, actual-river tests such as those in this study should be conducted when models of suspended-sediment samplers are changed from one type to another during the course of long-term monitoring programs. Otherwise, potential large differences in the suspended-sediment data collected by different types of samplers would lead to large step changes in sediment loads that may be misinterpreted as real, when, in fact, they are associated with the change in suspended‑sediment sampling equipment.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Evaluation of intake efficiencies and associated sediment-concentration errors in US D-77 bag-type and US D-96-type depth-integrating suspended-sediment samplers