Surrogate Sediment Measurement Technologies--Federal Interagency Sedimentation Project (FISP)
Since 1947, FISP has developed many types of sediment samplers to meet the needs of sedimentation engineers and scientists. These samplers have been primarily directed at the measurement of suspended sediment load, with little emphasis on bedload. Considering the advances in technology, the time has come to advance the science of sediment measurement, for both bedload and suspended load, using surrogate technologies. These surrogate technologies include, but are not limited to: acoustics (both passive and active using single- and multi- frequency), radar, instrumented steel plates and pipes (impact sensors), hydrophone listening devices, repeated SOund Navigation And Ranging (SONAR) surveys, bedload traps, Radio-frequency identification (RFID) tagging, magnetic tracking, and laser technology. Considering the broad range of potential surrogate sediment measurement methods, which ones will best serve the needs of river engineers and scientists?
Need and Benefit
Sediment transport and water quality data from streams entering and leaving Reclamation facilities are essential to perform many of the analyses needed to effectively operate, maintain, and sustain water delivery facilities. Every year, Reclamation funds data collection efforts in streams and at existing gaging stations to obtain sediment data for a variety of analyses. Sediment data are used throughout Reclamation to:
* Quantify and predict sediment volumes flowing into and out of reservoirs and diversion facilities
* Estimate bridge scour and channel degradation
* Monitor construction impacts
* Design sediment detention structures, channel and habitat restoration features, and channel bank and bed stabilization works
This research will produce increasingly more accurate and economical equipment and methodologies to ultimately increase the amount of sediment data available and potentially reduce the cost of data collection and management solutions. Many studies are now being conducted with little or no actual sediment data because data are unavailable or too costly to obtain. Often for safety reasons, sediment transport data are not collected during peak flow events. On average, especially in the Western United States, the peak flow events transport the majority of the sediment load. The development of new technologies that can automatically and continuously collect accurate sediment data for calculating sediment transport would benefit resource managers in all Federal agencies. The availability of accurate sediment and water quality data is essential for the effective and defensible analysis of sediment transport and its impacts on our projects.
U.S. Geological Survey, Department of the Interior
The following documents were not reviewed. Statements made in these documents are those of the authors. The findings have not been verified.
Research Report: Federal Interagency Sedimetnation Project (final, PDF,
By Robert Hilldale
Report completed on June 09, 2011
This information was last updated on May 23, 2015
Contact the Research and Development Office with questions or comments about this page