Design of a Multipoint Cost-Effective Optical Instrument for Continuous In-Situ Monitoring of Turbidity and Sediment

Matos, T.; Faria, C.L.; Martins, M.S.; Henriques, R.; Gomes, P.A.; Goncalves, L.M. 

A cost-effective optical instrument for continuous in-situ monitoring applications is presented. With a production cost in raw materials of 38 €, a power consumption of 300 A in sleep mode and 100 mA in active mode (5 ms reading), and a capacity to monitor turbidity and sedimentary displacement at eight different depths in the water column, the sensor was developed for sediment monitoring in coastal areas. Due to the extent and dynamics of the processes involved in these areas, observations require a wide spatial and temporal resolution. Each of the eight monitoring nodes uses one infrared backscatter channel, to estimate turbidity and sediment concentration, and one ultraviolet with one infrared transmitted light channels to distinguish organic/inorganic composition of the suspended material load. An in-lab calibration was conducted, using formazine to correlate turbidity with the electronic outputs of the instrument. An analysis of the influence of external light sources and correction techniques were performed. Moreover, an in-lab experiment was conducted to study the behaviour of the sensor-to-sediment transport, wash load and sediment accumulation. The device was deployed, with a water level sensor, in an estuarine area with high sediment dynamics. The monitoring data were analysed, showing the potential of the device to continuously monitor turbidity, sediment processes, and distinguish between organic and inorganic matter, at the different depths in the water column. Read the full article here.