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USGS Hydroacoustics

Hydroacoustic Training

A variety of training opportunities in hydroacoustics have been developed by the USGS, Office of Surface Water. These include formal training classes, short courses, workshops, and occasional Web-based seminars. Formal training courses are scheduled each year and include basic, intermediate, and index-velocity classes. Information on course registration and course content are provided in these pages.

Formal Hydroacoustics Training Classes

The following classes have been developed by the USGS for the purpose of training personnel in hydroacoustics. These classes are typically offered at least once per year and usually are held in or near USGS Water Science Center offices. The schedule for training classes for the next 12 months is typically fixed in late August. The USGS also provides training to other agencies, including Environment Canada, Environment Agency of England and Wales, New Zealand's National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, the Swedish Meteorlogic and Hydrologic Institute, and the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate.

Course Descriptions

Streamflow Measurement using ADCPs

Provides an introduction to the use of both SonTek/YSI and Teledyne/RDI ADCP's for moving-boat streamflow measurement. USGS employees are required to attend this class for routine operation of ADCPs. The class combines lectures and hand's-on use of ADCP's for collecting streamflow. The emphasis is on the practical aspects of using ADCP's for streamflow measurements. Topics that will be covered during the course include (1) basic principles of ADCP operation, (2) instrument configuration, (3) data collection procedures, (4) data processing and review, and (5) troubleshooting problems encountered in the field. OSW policy requires that ADCP operators attend this class before routinely using ADCPs. The class has an online portion (approx 8 hours) that must be successfully completed prior to attendance. The week long classroom portion starts at 1PM on Monday and ends by noon of Friday.

Streamflow Measurements With ADCPs Refresher

This two day course is to help ensure hydrographers are up-to-date with the latest hardware, software and procedures for moving-boat ADCP measurements. Both Teledyne RD Instruments and SonTek/YSI hardware and software are covered along with the latest USGS software used with ADCP measurements. SW1321, Streamflow Measurements Using ADCPs, is a prerequisite. By the end of this course you should be able to: 1) Be aware of available resources for keeping up-to-date and getting answers for hydroacoustic related issues. 2) Understand the latest ADCP measurement procedures. 3) Collect and finalize an ADCP moving boat measurement using the latest versions of SonTek RiverSurveyor Live with a M9/S5, and TRDI WinRiver II software with a Rio Grande, StreamPro and RiverRay ADCP. 4) Use SWAMI to electronically document notes for an ADCP measurements and import WinRiver II and RiverSurveyor Live.  5) Determine optimal profile extrapolation methods, based on site conditions, and collected data. 6) Recognize most common measurement issues, potential remedies, and evaluate their effect on measurement quality. This course is provided at local USGS Water Science Centers (WSC). Classes are scheduled based upon WSC demand and availability of instructors. The cost for up to 12 students is $2000 which covers class materials and salary of one instructor. The WSC also directly pays for any instructor travel.  Please contact Mike Rehmel for more information on scheduling.

Intermediate Streamflow Measurements Using ADCPs

This 5-day course is designed to expand on basic ADCP principles, while covering the latest in instrumentation, techniques, methods, and policies for both SonTek/YSI and Teledyne/RDI equipment. A significant amount of time is spent on data review and measurement quality, providing an excellent opportunity for questions on specific issues the student has encountered. ADCP discharge measurements in moving bed conditions are covered in detail including; use of GPS, loop method corrections, and multiple stationary moving bed corrections. Some time is spent collecting data in the field. Hydrographers who collect or review ADCP discharge measurements could benefit from the shared knowledge in this class. Note: this is not a substitute for the introductory class, Streamflow Measurements Using ADCP's (SW1321), which is a requirement for USGS personnel who collect ADCP data (OSW memo 2002.02), but is intended for users that already have some ADCP experience.

Streamflow Record Computation using ADVM's and Index-velocity Methods

This 5-day class will provide an introduction to the use of acoustic Doppler velocity meters (ADVM's) for computation of continuous records of streamflow. Meters that will be discussed include ADVM's such as the SonTek/YSI Argonaut SL, SW, and XRs, TRDI ChannelMasters, and Nortek EZQs. The SonTek/YSI ADVMs will be discussed in detail. This training will concentrate on the development of index-velocity ratings for the production of streamflow records from velocity and stage data. Equipment used to make index velocity measurements will be discussed, but this will not be the focus of the class. Topics that covered during the class include: (1) basic principles of ADVM operation; (2) site selection, instrument installation and configuration considerations; (3) development and evaluation of index-velocity and stage-area ratings; (4) streamflow record computation; and (5) quality-assurance methods. The class will include lectures and "hands-on" exercises. The exercises will include developing ratings using real data and producing streamflow records from the data using ADAPS.

Velocity Mapping and Bathymetry with ADCPs

This week-long class is designed to provide ADCP users familiar with discharge measurements with the skills, resources, and techniques necessary for velocity mapping and bathymetry surveys with an ADCP. Students will learn how to plan and execute surveys through several days of classroom and field work. Students will learn to process the data they collected and visualize and export it in a range of formats for delivery to cooperators, modelers, and the general public. Attendees should have completed the USGS class, Streamflow Measurement Using ADCPs (SW1321), before attending this class. It is recommended that the attendees have some familiarity with hydrographic surveying/navigation software and have it loaded on their laptop. This might include a version of HyPack, Fugawi, ArcGIS10, or other software allowing real-time navigation display.

Class Policies


Attendance to USGS training classes is limited USGS employees and cooperating agencies. USGS cannot provide training to private-sector personnel except in very rare circumstances. USGS cooperators and other agencies may attend if they have a current funding agreement with a USGS office and if space is available. Attendance to most classes is typically to 16 students, except for the ADCP refresher class. Some offerings of the Streamflow Measurment using ADCPs class accomodate as many as 24 students. Priority is given to personnel who are actively engaged in use of hydroacoustics instruments and methods. A cancellation fee of 75% of the tuition will be assessed if a student cancels after the class roster is finalized.


Attendees must complete pre-class activities. Attendees to the Streamflow Measurment using ADCPs class must complete some reading assignments, load software used in the class, and verify that it will work on the laptop they will be using during the class. In addition, each student attending that class must commit to making at least 2 discharge measurements within 2 months of completing the class and having those measurements successfully reviewed by a USGS ADCP instructor. Attendees for each of the classes will have basic PC computer skills, including rudimentary knowledge of how to use Windows programs, edit files with a text editor, etc.

Other Training

The USGS provides several other opportunities for less formal training activities. These include some Web-based training, workshops, and short courses offered periodically.

The Hydrologic Data Advisory Committee (HDAC) hosts annual Water Data Workshops with many training and advancement opportunities. Additionally, the HDAC host a series of recorded webinars geared toward Hydrologic Technicians. For more information, visit the
HDAC Website (Internal USGS Access Only)

The Scientific and Technical Employee Development (STED) Committee also maintains a list of training for USGS personnel in the Water Mission Area at the STED Training Website (Internal USGS Access Only) 

Wading Discharge Measurements (Flowtracker)

A CD-ROM based training class called "Measurement of Stream Discharge by Wading", has been developed by K. Michael Nolan and Ronald R. Shields. This course contains a section that covers the use of the Flowtracker for making wading discharge measurements.

Hydroacoustics Workshops

A Hydroacoustics Workshop was most recently held in April 2007, in St. Louis, MO. The goal of the workshop is to share information on recent developments in acoustics as it relates to measurement of velocity, streamflow, and sediment concentrations. The workshop is intended to provide an opportunity for a diverse audience to learn about recent developments in hydroacoustics and successful tools and techniques employed by others. Although sponsored by the USGS, Office of Surface Water, it attracts a wide audience from other water-resources related agencies and international organizations.

Short Courses

The OSW offers short courses periodically, often in conjunction with the Hydroacoustics Workshop and meetings such as regional data conferences. These short courses are usually announced in conjunction with these conferences. They include such topics as "Techniques for Reviewing ADCP Discharge Measurements", "Complex Index Velocity Ratings", "StreamPro Policies and Procedures", "Use of Flowtracker", and "Best Practices for ADCP Measurements".