A Preliminary Study on the Measurement of Sediment Concentration in Hill-Slope Runoff with an Electrolyte Tracer

  • Author(s): Xiaonan Shi and Fan Zhang
  • DOI: 10.3319/TAO.2012.05.23.01(WMH)
  • Keywords: Sediment concentration, Hill-slope runoff, Measurement method, Electrolyte tracer, Hydrodynamic dispersion coefficient

Sediment concentration in hill-slope runoff is an important index for soil erosion. Developing a reliable and portable measuring system of sediment concentration is a core issue for soil and water conservation study, especially for the Tibetan Plateau under unfavorable climate and terrain conditions for field investigation. Challenges include uneven distribution of sediment across a runoff section as well as difficulty in detecting a wide range of particle sizes. An electrolyte tracer, with the advantage of uniform distribution and its widely used electric-conductivity sensor, can avoid the problems of direct measurement of sediment. A new measurement method of sediment concentration in runoff with an electrolyte tracer is proposed based on a premise that sediment concentration is closely correlated with hydrodynamic dispersion coefficient of solute in runoff. In this study, an experiment system of hill-slope runoff with an electrolyte tracer and sediments is first designed. Second, two model parameters in the advective-dispersive equation of solute transport, flow velocity and diffusion coefficient, are inversely estimated by calibrating the observed concentrations of an electrolyte tracer. And third, the relationship between sediment concentrations and hydrodynamic dispersion coefficients are defined through specified regression. As a result, a measurement system of sediment concentration in hill-slope runoff with an electrolyte tracer is primarily established by integrating the relationship of variables, experiment system, and model theory.

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