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Flume testing of underwater seep detection using temperature sensing on or just below the surface of sand or gravel sediments

Authors: Selker, F.
Resource type:Composite Resource
Created:Apr 01, 2018 at 12:05 a.m.
Last updated: Apr 09, 2018 at 7:06 p.m. by CTEMPs OSU-UNR


Temperature anomalies can identify locations of seeps of groundwater into surface waters. However, the method's sensitivity to details such as thermometer burial depth, sediment material, seep velocity, and surface water current are largely unknown. We report on a series of laboratory flume experiments in which controlled seeps under variable sediment texture, surface currents, burial depth, and temperature differentials were imposed. The focus of the study is temperature effects at the sediment surface to a few centimeters below the sediment surface, as these locations are of particular interest when using fiber‐optic distributed temperature sensors (DTS). The data demonstrate: (1) without surface water flow, seep‐related thermal anomalies were apparent in all cases, i.e., the method is feasible in such cases; (2) probe burial is helpful for fine sediment although not effective with coarse bed sediment, i.e., the method is strongly sensitive to sediment properties; (3) placing a thin rubber sheet over an unburied thermal probe increases detection of seeps in some circumstances, but not in others, and is generally not as robust as probe burial; and (4) local surface flow velocity, details of probe position and depth, and seepage velocity all influence observed temperature anomalies, limiting the opportunity to quantify seepage velocity, particularly with unburied temperature sensors. Overall, these findings suggest optimal installation would be at a well‐defined depth within fine sediment, that installation in gravel and coarser sediment is not suited to the method if there are any significant surface currents, and that more data would be required to obtain accurate estimates of seepage velocity, though a single sensor may be sufficient to identify the location of seepage.

Raw project data is available by contacting ctemps@unr.edu

Subject Keywords

DTS,fiber optic,groundwater - surface water,CTEMPs

How to cite

Selker, F. (2018). Flume testing of underwater seep detection using temperature sensing on or just below the surface of sand or gravel sediments, HydroShare, http://www.hydroshare.org/resource/e007dc70f55e46dbbaf23c3f7aa5d878

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Name Organization Address Phone Author Identifiers
Selker, F.


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