Articles | Volume 22, issue 3
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 22, 1767–1773, 2018
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 22, 1767–1773, 2018

Technical note 12 Mar 2018

Technical note | 12 Mar 2018

Technical note: False low turbidity readings from optical probes during high suspended-sediment concentrations

Nicholas Voichick et al.

Related subject area

Subject: Rivers and Lakes | Techniques and Approaches: Instruments and observation techniques
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Cited articles

ASTM International: Standard Guide for the Use of Various Turbidimeter Technologies for Measurement of Turbidity in Water, D7726-11, ASTM International, West Conshohocken, PA, USA, 1–17, 2011. 
Davies-Colley, R. J., Smith, D. G., and Vant, W. N.: Colour and Clarity of Natural Waters: Science and Management of Optical Water Quality, Ellis Horwood, London, 310 pp., 1993. 
Downing, J.: Twenty-five years with OBS sensors: the good, the bad, and the ugly, Cont. Shelf. Res., 26, 2299–2318, 2006. 
Edwards, T. K. and Glysson, G. D.: Field methods for measurement of fluvial sediment, U.S. Geological Survey Techniques of Water-Resources Investigations, book 3, chapter C2, 89 pp., available at: (last access: March 2018), 1999. 
Gippel, C. J.: The use of turbidimeters in suspended sediment research, Hydrobiologia, 176, 465–480, 1989. 
Short summary
This paper describes instances in the Grand Canyon study area and a laboratory experiment in which very high suspended-sediment concentrations result in incorrectly low turbidity recorded with a commonly used field instrument. If associated with the monitoring of a construction or dredging project, false low turbidity could result in regulators being unaware of environmental damage caused by the actually much higher turbidity.