USGS - science for a changing world

USGS Hydrologic Instrumentation Facility

  home   programs   services   facilities   publications   links   about   contact
picture of Hydrologic Instrumentation Facility hydraulic laboratory technician installing a mechanical current meter on the tow tank cart

Water Data for the Nation

Water Programs



USGS Water Science Centers are located in each state.

There is a USGS Water Science Center office in each State. Washington Oregon California Idaho Nevada Montana Wyoming Utah Colorado Arizona New Mexico North Dakota South Dakota Nebraska Kansas Oklahoma Texas Minnesota Iowa Missouri Arkansas Louisiana Wisconsin Illinois Mississippi Michigan Indiana Ohio Kentucky Tennessee Alabama Pennsylvania West Virginia Georgia Florida Caribbean Alaska Hawaii New York Vermont New Hampshire Maine Massachusetts South Carolina North Carolina Rhode Island Virginia Connecticut New Jersey Maryland-Delaware-D.C.

Facilities at the Hydrologic Instrumentation Facility

Hydraulic Laboratory

picture of outflow from the tilting flume hydraulic laboratory of the Hydrologic Instrumentation Facility

The Hydraulic Laboratory is a one-of-a-kind facility within the United States. Meters, flumes, and other flow-measuring devices are evaluated and calibrated at the laboratory before being used by USGS offices and other Federal and State Agencies. Standards are also developed that affect USGS operations nationwide. It also used in water-resources investigations and to obtain experimental data used in research studies on the mechanics of flow and the transport and dispersion of heat, solutes, and solids in rivers and estuaries.


Towing tank

Sized at 12 x 12 x 450 ft, it is used to test and calibrate instruments that measure water velocity by the principle of cup rotation, drag, Doppler effect, acoustic signal, electromagnetic field, deflection, or other means. The tow vehicle is capable of speeds from 0 to 18 feet per second (ft/s) and has a platform size of 12 x 14 ft. The carriage is equipped with a data acquisition system designed to accept distance traveled, elapsed time, and meter pulse count information.

Submerged Jet Tank

Built as a 12 x 12 ft cross section and is 120 ft long. The tank provides a low turbulence, live-velocity source; that is, the water moves past the stationary meter. The discharge into the tank flows from the constant head tank to the head box of the jet, through the jet, over a weir, and back to the sump from which pumps convey the water back to the constant head tank. The system allows for a discharge stable to less than 0.5 percent. Discharge measurements are made using calibrated volumetric tanks. Velocities of the 2-ft diameter jet have a stable range of 0.25 to 8 ft/s.

Tilting flume

The tilting flume is 6 ft wide, 3 ft deep and 250 ft long and can be tilted to a slope of 1 percent. The discharge capacity is a maximum of 50 cubic feet per second (cfs), partially or wholly supplied by the laboratory's constant head tank. The whole discharge can be recirculated, hence it is adequate for sediment work.

Pipe-flow test stand

Designed for the testing and calibration of noninvasive acoustic flow meters using both Doppler shift and transit-time principles. Invasive meters such as turbines, venturi throat, electromagnetic probe, and Pitot-type meters can be calibrated at the pipe-flow test stand using custom modified pipes. This facility has 4-, 6-, 8-, 10-, and 12-inch pipe sizes in a variety of materials and wall thicknesses. The test stand was designed so that the pipe sections can be isolated individually. Flow to the facility is provided by the laboratory's constant head tank. Flow rates are measured using a venturi tube located in the 12-inch supply line and a weir box equipped with a 90-degree V-notch weir. Maximum discharge is approximately 4500 gal/min.

USGS Home Water Climate Change Core Science Ecosystems Energy and Minerals Env. Health Hazards

Accessibility FOIA Privacy Policies and Notices

Take Pride in America logo logo U.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
Page Contact Information: HIF Web Support Team
Page Last Modified: Wednesday, 12-Dec-2012 12:36:08 EST