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Remotely Sensing Sediment Tracers

Linhoss, A., Prince Czarnecki, J. M., & Samiappan, S. (2019). Remotely Sensing Sediment Tracers. Mississippi Water Resources Conference. Jackson, MS.


Tracking the movement of sediment in water is important for understanding the rate of coastal erosion and deposition. This understanding is critical for designing sustainable and resilient coastal infrastructure. Sediment tracers are one of few field techniques that can be used to track coastal erosion and deposition. Traditional sediment tracing methodologies involve recovering sediment samples and extracting the tracer material either by hand (particle by particle) or using magnets. This is an effective but time intensive and costly process. This project explores the use of low altitude remote sensing to measure the concentration of sediment tracer in order to understand and track coastal sediment movement. Sand was mixed with various concentrations of fluorescent and magnetic sediment tracer. Samples were placed in containers, outdoors during daylight hours. An unmanned aerial system fitted with a hyperspectral sensor flew over the samples to collect reflectance data. The images were processed to detect the concentration of tracer in each sample. The results from the processed images were compared to the known concentrations. Preliminary results show that, at the plot scale, remote sensing is a promising technique for measuring sediment tracer concentrations. Future work will involve testing the method in field conditions along the Mississippi coastline.

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