Sediment loads and transport at constructed chutes along the Missouri River - Upper Hamburg Chute near Nebraska City, Nebraska, and Kansas Chute near Peru, Nebraska

Scientific Investigations Report 2016-5002
Prepared in cooperation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District
By: , and 



The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, monitored suspended sediment within constructed Missouri River chutes during March through October 2012. Chutes were constructed at selected river bends by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to help mitigate aquatic habitat lost through the creation and maintenance of the navigation channel on the Missouri River. The restoration and development of chutes is one method for creating shallow-water habitat within the Missouri River to meet requirements established by the amended 2000 Biological Opinion. Understanding geomorphic channel-evolution processes and sediment transport is important for the design of chutes, monitoring and maintenance of existing chutes, and characterizing the habitat that the chutes provide. This report describes the methods used to monitor suspended sediment at two Missouri River chutes and presents the results of the data analysis to help understand the suspended-sediment characteristics of each chute and the effect the chutes have on the Missouri River. Upper Hamburg chute, near Nebraska City, Nebraska, and Kansas chute, near Peru, Nebraska, were selected for monitoring. At each study site, monthly discrete samples were collected from April through October in the Missouri River main-channel transects upstream from the chute inlet, downstream from the chute outlet, at the outlet (downstream transect) of both chutes, and at the inlet (upstream transect) of Kansas chute. In addition, grab samples from all chute sampling locations were collected using autosamplers. Suspended-sediment concentration (SSC) and grain-size metrics were determined for all samples (discrete and grab). Continuous water-quality monitors recorded turbidity and water temperature at 15-minute intervals at the three chute sampling locations. Two acoustic Doppler velocimeters, one within each chute, measured water depth and current velocities continuously. The depth and velocity data were used to estimate streamflow within each chute. The sampling design was developed to understand the suspended-sediment differences within each chute and between the chute and the Missouri River main channel during discrete sampling. The sampling design also allowed for site-specific surrogate relations between SSC and turbidity to be developed, which could be used to compute real-time estimates of SSC and sediment loads within the chutes. Real-time estimates of SSC and sediment loads enable a better understanding of sediment transport within the chutes during times when physical samples are not collected, including periods of high flow.

High flows during the summer of 2011 resulted in substantial alterations to both studied chutes; therefore, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers repaired and modified both chutes during 2012. These unforeseen repairs and modifications within the chutes added uncertainty to the analysis because concentrations were altered by construction equipment and flow alteration.

Daily suspended-sediment and suspended-silt loads were estimated based on surrogate relations with turbidity. A linear regression was used to estimate equal-width increment (EWI)-equivalent SSC from autosampler SSC before using the model-calibration dataset to determine the best-fit model for prediction of SSC from the turbidity and, in some cases, discharge. Correlation between suspended-sand concentration (SSandC) in EWI samples and concurrent samples collected by an autosampler was low; therefore, SSandC was excluded from development of surrogate relations because a large part of the calibration dataset was from autosamples. Instead, SSandC was estimated as SSC minus suspended-silt-clay concentration (SSiltC). At all sites, the best-fit models included the base-10 logarithm of concentration and turbidity, and at Kansas chute upstream, the base-10 logarithm of streamflow was also included in the best-fit models. These surrogate models were used to estimate continuous time series of SSC and SSiltC. Estimated concentrations of suspended sediment were used to estimate instantaneous and daily loads for total suspended sediment, suspended silt-clay, and suspended sand. Estimated daily suspended-sediment loads were not significantly different between upstream and downstream transects within the Kansas chute, and most individual daily loads within the chute were not significantly different between upstream and downstream transects when evaluated using overlap in daily 95-percent confidence intervals. The comparison of daily load values for upstream and downstream chute transects, as estimated from turbidity-based surrogate models for Kansas chute, documents the daily dynamic nature of sediment transport within the chute with a temporal resolution that is not practical with discrete suspended-sediment sampling alone.

Comparisons of concentrations and loads from EWI samples collected from different transects within a study site resulted in few significant differences, but comparisons are limited by small sample sizes and large within-transect variability. When comparing the Missouri River upstream transect to the chute inlet transect, similar results were determined in 2012 as were determined in 2008—the chute inlet affected the amount of sediment entering the chute from the main channel. In addition, the Kansas chute is potentially affecting the sediment concentration within the Missouri River main channel, but small sample size and construction activities within the chute limit the ability to fully understand either the effect of the chute in 2012 or the effect of the chute on the main channel during a year without construction. Finally, some differences in SSC were detected between the Missouri River upstream transects and the chute downstream transects; however, the effect of the chutes on the Missouri River main-channel sediment transport was difficult to isolate because of construction activities and sampling variability.

Suggested Citation

Densmore, B.K., Rus, D.L., Moser, M.T., Hall, B.M., and Andersen, M.J., 2016, Sediment loads and transport at constructed chutes along the Missouri River—Upper Hamburg chute near Nebraska City, Nebraska, and Kansas chute near Peru, Nebraska, 2012: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2016–5002, 47 p.

ISSN: 2328-0328 (online)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Methods
  • Sediment Loads in the Chutes
  • Sediment Transport Characteristics Within and Adjacent to the Chutes
  • Summary
  • References Cited
  • Tables 3 and 5
  • Appendix 1
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Sediment loads and transport at constructed chutes along the Missouri River - Upper Hamburg Chute near Nebraska City, Nebraska, and Kansas Chute near Peru, Nebraska
Series title Scientific Investigations Report
Series number 2016-5002
DOI 10.3133/sir20165002
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Nebraska Water Science Center
Description vii, 47 p.
Country United States
State Nebraska
City Nebraska City, Peru
Other Geospatial Missouri River
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details