Apparatus and techniques for measuring bedload

Water Supply Paper 1748



The need for accurate determinations of the total sediment discharge of particles of bedload size has prompted this investigation of available and possible measuring apparatus and procedures. The accuracy of measurements of sediment discharge made with trap-type samplers is affected by the variability of sampler efficiency, by the oscillatory variation of bedload discharge, and by sampler placement. Equations that were developed for determining total discharge from measured bedioad discharge and measured suspended-sediment discharge are simplest if the bedload apparatus measures only the true bedload. Early bedload samplers are generally unsatisfactory. Recently developed or suggested apparatus include various improved samplers of the pressure-difference type, a pumping sampler, a magnetic sampler, acoustical instruments that measure the magnitude of the sound of particle collisions, an ultrasonic bedload sampler designed to measure and integrate electronically the concentration and velocity, and a tiltmeter designed to measure the total sediment discharge from the ground tilt that results from the passage of flow. All the pressure-difference samplers are improvements over early samplers, but none are void of the inherent shortcomings of trap-type apparatus; probably the Sphinx (Dutch) and VUV (Hungarian) samplers are the most satisfactory. The acoustical instruments are capable of measuring only the relative discharge. The ultrasonic sampler and the tiltmeter are not adequate without further development. Some new possible apparatus and means for measuring or aiding in measuring bedload discharge are small pit samplers, ultrasonic sounders, pressure transducers, and photography. A small pit sampler for measuring bedload discharge was designed to provide self-placement and portability ; however, its practicability and efficiency are undetermined. Exploratory films show that by using slowmotion photography the discharge of particles larger than about pea size can be determined provided the flow is clear; however, photography generally is not practical. Ultrasonic sounders provide continuous and accurate data on bed configuration and dune movement for use in equations that were developed for computing the bedload discharge. Computations with the equations indicate that the interpretation of the sounding data needs further study. Pressure transducers placed beneath the bed surface possibly can be used to provide information on dune movement; however, their installation would be difficult. The time required for collecting data on bed configuration and dune movement throughout a cross section could be substantially reduced by using several transducers simultaneously in conjunction with an ultrasonic sounder. A modified ultrasonic sounder that provides information on the shape and velocity of large particles and a method for determining the discharge of such particles were proposed; the method seems most feasible for particles of high sphericity.

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Apparatus and techniques for measuring bedload
Series title Water Supply Paper
Series number 1748
DOI 10.3133/wsp1748
Edition -
Year Published 1964
Language ENGLISH
Publisher U. S. Govt. Print. Off.,
Description v, 74 p. :illus. ;24 cm.