Using Acoustic Doppler Velocity Meters to Estimate Suspended Sediment along the Lower Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers

Scientific Investigations Report 2018-5165
Prepared in cooperation with Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Lower Minnesota River Watershed District, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
By: , and 

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Abstract

Lake Pepin is the largest naturally formed lake on the Mississippi River and has complex management needs to satisfy economic, environmental, and cultural demands. Lake Pepin is filling in with sediment at a rapid rate compared to conditions before settlement by European immigrants and intense agricultural cultivation. Accordingly, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has developed aggressive plans to prioritize sediment sources, understand transport mechanisms, and implement large-scale strategies to reduce sedimentation in Lake Pepin.

The Minnesota River is the primary sediment source to Lake Pepin, and reductions in sediment loading from the Minnesota River are needed to reduce sedimentation in Lake Pepin. Current loading estimates were calculated from grab sampling and total suspended solids laboratory methods that greatly underestimate the actual concentrations in the rivers when compared to U.S. Geological Survey width and depth integrated sampling and laboratory methods for determining suspended-sediment concentration (SSC). Therefore, the U.S. Geological Survey, with funding from the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund and in cooperation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Lower Minnesota River Watershed District, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, collected SSCs and acoustic backscatter data from acoustic Doppler velocity meters over a 2-year period at nine sites. The purpose of the study was to improve understanding of sediment-transport processes and increase accuracy of estimating SSCs and suspended-sediment loads for the lower Minnesota River and the Mississippi River compared to traditional measures.

The study results indicated that acoustic backscatter worked well in estimating SSCs at sites not regulated by locks, dams, and lakes. The results also confirmed previous studies that determined most of the suspended-sediment loading into the Mississippi River is from the Minnesota River and the largest sediment sink is Lake Pepin. Suspended-sediment loading from site to site and year to year was often variable when compared to streamflow, which has been traditionally used to estimate SSC. As a result, this study demonstrates the value in having high temporal and spatial resolution of continuous sediment monitoring from acoustic devices to help manage the sources of sediment into Lake Pepin.

Suggested Citation

Groten, J.T., Ziegeweid, J.R., Lund, J.W., Ellison, C.A., Costa, S.B., Coenen, E.N., and Kessler, E.W., 2019, Using acoustic Doppler velocity meters to estimate suspended sediment along the lower Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2018–5165, 30 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/sir20185165.

ISSN: 2328-0328 (online)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Methods of Data Collection and Analysis
  • Streamflow, Suspended-Sediment Concentrations, and Surrogate Relations
  • Surrogate Relations for Suspended-Sediment Concentrations
  • Suspended-Sediment Loads
  • Summary and Conclusions
  • References Cited

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Using acoustic Doppler velocity meters to estimate suspended sediment along the lower Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers
Series title Scientific Investigations Report
Series number 2018-5165
DOI 10.3133/sir20185165
Year Published 2019
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Upper Midwest Water Science Center
Description Report: viii, 30 p.; Data Release
Country United States
Other Geospatial Minnesota River, Mississippi River
Online Only (Y/N) Y