A Bed Load Monitoring System for Real Time Sediment Transport and Bed Morphology during Channel Altering Events

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Joanna C Curran, Northwest Hydraulic Consultants, Seattle, WA, United States, Kevin A Waters, University of Virginia Main Campus, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Charlottesville, VA, United States and Kristen Cannatelli, InterFluve Environmental, Cambridge, MA, United States
A new technique is presented that provides continuous measurement of sediment movement over the length of a flume. Real-time measurements of bed changes over a reach are a missing piece needed to link bed morphology with sediment transport processes during unsteady flows when the bed adjusts quickly to changing transport rates or visual observation of the bed is precluded by fine sediment in the water column. A bed load monitoring system (BLMS) was developed that records the sediment and water loads over discrete bed lengths throughout a flow event. It was designed for laboratory application where controlled measurement methods are possible. Upon data processing, the BLMS provides a continuous measure of the sediment load across the bed from which sediment movement rates through the reach, including areas of temporary aggradation or degradation, can be reconstructed.

Examples are provided of how the bed load monitoring system has been applied during sediment feed and sediment recirculation experiments to further the interpretation of channel processes occurring during large flows. We detail the use of the BLMS to measure bed slopes during unsteady flows and to measure the movement of sediment downstream following different methods of dam removal. We evaluate the BLMS for use where DEM differencing was also applied to illustrate the information provided by each measurement method. Exciting implications of future research that incorporates a BLMS include a more informed management of river systems as a result of improved temporal predictions of sediment movement and the associated changes in channel slope and morphology.