Minimum and Maximum Times Required to Obtain Representative Suspended Sediment Samples
Friday, 19 December 2014
Bottle sampling is a convenient method of obtaining suspended sediment measurements for the development of sediment budgets. While these methods are generally considered to be reliable, recent analysis of depth-integrated sampling has identified considerable uncertainty in measurements of grain-size concentration between grain-size classes of multiple samples. Point-integrated bottle sampling is assumed to represent the mean concentration of suspended sediment but the uncertainty surrounding this method is not well understood. Here we examine at-a-point variability in velocity, suspended sediment concentration, grain-size distribution, and grain-size moments to determine if traditional point-integrated methods provide a representative sample of suspended sediment. We present continuous hour-long observations of suspended sediment from the sand-bedded portion of the Fraser River at Mission, British Columbia, Canada, using a LISST laser-diffraction instrument. Spectral analysis suggests that there are no statistically significant peak in energy density, suggesting the absence of periodic fluctuations in flow and suspended sediment. However, a slope break in the spectra at 0.003 Hz corresponds to a period of 5.5 minutes. This coincides with the threshold between large-scale turbulent eddies that scale with channel width/mean velocity and hydraulic phenomena related to channel dynamics. This suggests that suspended sediment samples taken over a period longer than 5.5 minutes incorporate variability that is larger scale than turbulent phenomena in this channel. Examination of 5.5-minute periods of our time series indicate that ~20% of the time a stable mean value of volumetric concentration is reached within 30 seconds, a typical bottle sample duration. In ~12% of measurements a stable mean was not reached over the 5.5 minute sample duration. The remaining measurements achieve a stable mean in an even distribution over the intervening interval.