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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Technologies for Managing Water and Sediment Movement in Agricultural Watersheds

Location: Watershed Physical Processes Research Unit

Title: Comparison and assessment of four sediment particle-size analysis methodologies

Authors
item Rigby, James
item Wren, Daniel

Submitted to: Meeting Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: August 13, 2012
Publication Date: August 13, 2012
Citation: Rigby, J. R. and Wren, D. G. Comparison and assessment of four sediment particle-size analysis methodologies. Hydraulic Measurements and Experimental Methods Conference, Snowbird, Utah. 5 pp. 2012. CD-ROM.

Interpretive Summary: The size of sediment particles is important for many types of research, such as sediment transport dynamics, subsurface and groundwater flow, lacustrine depositional history, and nutrient transport. Different measurement techniques can yield different particle sizes for the same material, meaning that care must be taken when choosing methods. We compare particle-size determinations using sieve, pipette, automated fall-velocity (Sedigraph), and laser- based methodologies (Digisizer, LISST-100) and assess the relative merits and limitations of each method for environmental applications. Despite literature showing good agreement among these methods significant differences were found in this study for the measured particle size distribution and median particle size among methods. For fine sediments the Sedigraph is found to produce results closest to pipette results, while for sand the LISST performed best.

Technical Abstract: Sediment particle-size analysis is a fundamental component of a wide variety of environmental disciplines such as sediment transport dynamics, subsurface and groundwater flow, lacustrine depositional history, and nutrient transport. There are several readily available methods for measuring particle sizes based on distinct physical measurement techniques; however, different methods applied to the same sample often yield disparate particle size distributions. We compare particle-size determinations using sieve, pipette, automated fall-velocity (Sedigraph), and laser- based methodologies (Digisizer, LISST-100) and assess the relative merits and limitations of each method for environmental applications. Despite literature showing good agreement among these methods significant differences were found in this study for the measured particle size distribution and median particle size among methods. For fine sediments the Sedigraph is found to produce results closest to pipette results, while for sand the LISST performed best.

Last Modified: 10/25/2014
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