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Durham University

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Publication details for Professor Jeff Warburton

Perks, M.T., Warburton, J. & Bracken, L. (2013). Critical assessment and validation of a time-integrating fluvial suspended sediment sampler. Hydrological Processes 28(17): 4795-4807.

Author(s) from Durham


Delivery of fine sediment to fluvial systems is of considerable concern given the physical and ecological impacts of elevated levels in drainage networks. Although it is possible to measure the transfer of fine sediment at high frequency by using a range of surrogate and automated technologies, the demands for assessing sediment flux and sediment properties at multiple spatially distributed locations across catchments can often not be met using established sampling techniques. The time-integrated mass-flux sampler (TIMS) has the potential to bridge this gap and further our understanding of fine sediment delivery in fluvial systems. However, these devices have undergone limited testing in the field. The aim of this paper was to provide a critical validation of TIMS as a technique for assessing fluvial fine sediment transfer. Fine sediment flux and sediment properties were assessed over 2 years with individual sampling periods of approximately 30 days. Underestimation of sediment flux ranged between 66% and 99% demonstrating that TIMS is unsuitable for assessing absolute sediment loads. However, assessment of relative efficiency showed that six of seven samplers produced statistically strong relationships with the reference sediment load (P < 0.05). Aggregated data from all sites produced a highly significant relationship between reference and TIMS loads (R2 = 0.80; P < 0.001) demonstrating TIMS may be suitable for characterizing patterns of suspended sediment transfer. Testing also illustrated a consistency in sediment properties between multiple samplers in the same channel cross section. TIMS offers a useful means of assessing spatial and temporal patterns of fine sediment transfer across catchments where expensive monitoring frameworks cannot be commissioned.