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Scientific Investigations Report 2012–5204

Prepared in cooperation with the Kansas and Missouri Departments of Transportation

Bathymetric and Velocimetric Surveys at Highway Bridges Crossing the Missouri River in and into Missouri during Summer Flooding, July–August 2011

By Richard J. Huizinga

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (33.4 MB)Abstract

Bathymetric and velocimetric surveys were conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Kansas and Missouri Departments of Transportation, in the vicinity of 36 bridges at 27 highway crossings of the Missouri River between Brownville, Nebraska and St. Louis, Missouri, from July 13 through August 3, 2011, during a summer flood. A multibeam echo sounder mapping system was used to obtain channel-bed elevations for river reaches ranging from 1,350 to 1,860 feet and extending across the active channel of the Missouri River. These bathymetric scans provide a “snapshot” of the channel conditions at the time of the surveys and provide characteristics of scour holes that may be useful in the development of predictive guidelines or equations for scour holes. These data also may be used by the Kansas and Missouri Departments of Transportation to assess the bridges for stability and integrity issues with respect to bridge scour during floods.

Bathymetric data were collected around every pier that was in water, except those at the edge of water, in extremely shallow water, or surrounded by debris rafts. Scour holes were present at most piers for which bathymetry could be obtained, except at piers on channel banks, those near or embedded in lateral or longitudinal spur dikes, and those on exposed bedrock outcrops. Scour holes observed at the surveyed bridges were examined with respect to depth and shape. Although exposure of parts of foundational support elements was observed at several piers, at most sites the exposure likely can be considered minimal compared to the overall substructure that remains buried in bed material; however, there were several notable exceptions where the bed material thickness between the bottom of the scour hole and bedrock was less than 6 feet. Such substantial exposure of usually buried substructural elements may warrant special observation in future flood events.

Previous bathymetric surveys had been done at several of the sites, and comparisons between bathymetric surfaces from the previous surveys and those of this study indicate substantial variability in the response of the channel bed to the 2011 summer flood conditions. At sites in Kansas City, there was no consistent deepening of the channel or increase in the size of scour holes, despite substantially more discharge and a higher water-surface elevation in the 2011 surveys, which implies the high-flow conditions during the 2011 surveys created a similar scour scenario to the previous surveys. At Jefferson City and the St. Louis sites, there was a consistent deepening of the channel, and a slight to substantial increase in the depth of scour holes in the 2011 surveys compared to previous surveys, although the effects of the higher flow appeared to be mitigated by the shape and alignment of the piers at most sites in St. Louis. Construction activities related to a new bridge at the Atchison, Kansas, site likely have contributed to the substantial additional scour observed there in a previous survey during the 2010 flooding, and the subsequent aggradation of the channel bed observed in the 2011 survey. Pier size, nose shape, and alignment to flow also had a profound effect on the size of the scour hole observed for a given pier.

First posted September 27, 2012

For additional information contact:
Director, Missouri Water Science Center
U.S. Geological Survey
1400 Independence Road
Rolla, MO 65401

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Suggested citation:

Huizinga, R.J., 2012, Bathymetric and velocimetric surveys at highway bridges crossing the Missouri River in and into Missouri during summer flooding, July–August 2011: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2012–5204, 166 p.




Results of Bathymetric Surveys

Summary and Conclusions


References Cited

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