Laboratory Measurement of Sediment by Turbidity

by Peter R.B. Ward, (M.ASCE), Sr. Engr.; Western Canada Hydr. Labs. Ltd., B.C. Canada,
Remigio Chikwanha, Research Officer; Ministry of Water Development, Salisbury, Zimbabwe/Rhodesia,

Serial Information: Journal of the Hydraulics Division, 1980, Vol. 106, Issue 6, Pg. 1041-1053

Document Type: Journal Paper


A low cost light transmission instrument is used to measure the concentration of suspended sediment in river water samples. Problems which have confronted previous workers such as the fast reduction of instrument sensitivity with grain size of sediment are investigated and the method shown to be viable. Good performance with acceptable accuracies and very short measuring times are shown to apply for samples in the concentration range 100 mg/L to 2000 mg/L. Sand sized particles are not measured with the laboratory instrument, although clay and silt sized particles are measured satisfactorily. A method is described of correcting the results for particles which are not measured, applicable to rivers which carry only small proportions of suspended sand. The method is described and tested for laboratory application only, but the findings of the Calibration section may be applied also to field instruments which work on the turbidity principle.

Subject Headings: Turbidity | Suspended sediment | Rivers and streams | Sandy soils | Particle size distribution | Clays | Power transmission | Water sampling

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