Acoustic Attenuation and Backscatter Properties of a River Water Column Derived from Laser Diffraction Profiles of Particle Size Distribution

Friday, 18 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Yogesh C Agrawal, Sequoia Scientific, Inc., Bellevue, WA, United States and Daniel M Hanes, Southern Louisiana University, St Louis, LA, United States
In a river column, does acoustic attenuation depend solely on fines while backscatter is determined by coarse grains alone? Does a single, monotonic relationship exist between acoustic backscatter and suspended sediment concentration in a bi-modal size distribution (PSD) at some sound frequency? These questions are addressed in this paper. In-situ vertical profiles of PSD, measured with a laser diffraction instrument LISST-SL are used to compute vertical profiles of acoustic attenuation and backscattering properties. Two sets of data taken one-year apart are examined. The data are from the Cowlitz river in Washington State. Data from one day in March, 2011 reveal a bi-modal PSD that is all washload at surface, but is dominated by Rouse-like suspended sand mode lower to bottom. In this case, at low frequencies, attenuation is indeed set by the washload, while scattering is determined by sand mode except near the surface. A monotonic relationship between backscatter and suspended sediment concentration is also found, offering a calibration for a single frequency system, and rendering inversion of acoustic profiles explicit. A year later, March 2012, the water column had very little wash load, instead only a Rouse-like suspended mode existed. In this uni-modal case, both attenuation and scattering profiles were determined by the suspended load, making inversions implicit. In this latter case, the backscatter-suspended concentration had a much tighter relationship than the bi-modal earlier case, associated with a narrow size distribution of sands. These views emphasize the dramatic variability of acoustic properties of a river column in different flow regimes.