The realization of hydromorphologic laboratory experiments on the propagation of aggrading or degrading sediment fronts requires simultaneous measurements of the sediment feeding rate, the profile of the free surface, and the flume bed elevation. In this study, five action cameras and different image-processing techniques were employed to measure all the needed quantities automatically and with adequate temporal resolution. The measurement of the sediment feeding rate was determined by particle image velocimetry as a surrogate, correlated quantity: the surface velocity of the sediment flow along a vibrating channel was used as an upstream feeder. The profile of the free surface was measured by shooting an array of piezometers connected to the flume. Each piezometer pipe contained a buoyant black sphere that could be recognized by using tools for particle identification, thus determining the elevation of the free surface above the piezometric probe. Finally, the bed profile along the flume was measured at any instant by edge detection, locating the transition from a water layer to a sediment layer in images taken from the side of the flume. The paper describes the instrumentation and the methods, finally presenting the results obtained from a prototypal experiment. Potentialities and limitations of the proposed methods are discussed, together with some prospects on future use in systematic experimental campaigns.
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