Discrete particle dynamics is one of the least understood aspects of river bedload transport, but in situ measurement of stone movement during floods poses a significant technical challenge. A promising approach to address this knowledge gap is to use sensors embedded within stones. Sensors must be waterproof and recoverable after being transported downstream and potentially buried by other sediment. To address this challenge rugged sensors (Kinematic Loggers) were developed for deployment inside stones (ranging in size from cobbles to boulders) during floods. The sensors feature a 9-axis inertial measurement unit, 3-axis high-g accelerometer, 128 MB flash memory, and a 433 MHz LoRa radio transmission module for sensor recovery. The sensors are enclosed in rugged waterproof housings for deployment in extreme conditions (i.e., bedload transport during floods). Novel relay units and drone-based recovery systems were also developed for finding the sensors after field deployments. Firmware to control the sensors and relay units was developed, as well as software for configuring the sensors and an android application for communicating with the sensors via the LoRa radio transmission module. This paper covers the technical development of the sensors, mounting them inside stones, and field recovery tests. Although designed for measurement of coarse bedload transport and particle dynamics during floods, the sensors are equally applicable for deployment in other harsh environments, such as to study landslide and rockfall dynamics.
Keywords: IMU; LoRa; UAV; accelerometer; environmental monitoring; particle dynamics; recovery systems; rockfall dynamics; rugged waterproof sensors; sediment transport.