SYMPOSIA PAPER Published: 01 January 1990

Real-Time In-Situ Monitoring of Dredge Disposal Sites


The University of New Hampshire is utilizing “smart,” remote, telemetering instrumentation for the real-time monitoring of the ocean environment. These techniques are being adapted to the dredged sediment disposal site monitoring problem, in particular, short-term monitoring during the discharge of dredged sediment and the long-term monitoring of the disposal mound after capping.

The goal of short-term monitoring is to collect sediment distribution and water property data that facilitate (1) studying the physical processes at the site, (2) monitoring the discharge operation, and (3) designing an efficient cap. To achieve this, the disposal site must be continuously monitored, and the lateral spread of dredged sediment, the amount of sediment deposited at and advected off the site, and the gross mound geometry and growth must all be estimated. The time and position of the dredged sediment during the actual discharge operation are recorded and relayed back to shore in real time as an artifact of this monitoring. This information is available to local and federal authorities charged with policing the disposal site.

The goal of long-term monitoring is to assess the dredged sediment mound and cap performance to insure that any contaminated sediment is safely contained. Satisfactory performance of a disposal site is defined here as small vertical settlement, no geotechnical instability, or no storm induced erosion effects. The detection of these effects drives the need for particular sensor and instrument configuration. The time series data acquired with these systems will allow making first order decisions regarding possible mound (dredged sediment/cap) performance inadequacies. The inadequacies may result in possible sediment resuspension and transport, and water column contamination.

Using modern developments in microprocessor-controlled instrumentation, acoustics and packet radio telemetry, general purpose, remote instrumentation is easily deployed for one year to monitor the ocean environment and telemeter data to shore in near real time. Acoustic and optical techniques for monitoring suspended sediment, as well as the usual physical oceanographic sensors can be interfaced to the bottom mounted instrumentation for these monitoring operations.

Author Information

Baldwin, KC
University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH
Irish, JD
University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH
Bokuniewicz, HJ
Marine Science Research Center, State University of New York, Stony Brook, NY
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Developed by Committee: D18
Pages: 76–86
DOI: 10.1520/STP17230S
ISBN-EB: 978-0-8031-5145-1
ISBN-13: 978-0-8031-1390-9