Civil Engineering ETDs

Publication Date

Spring 5-11-2019


Sediment has long been considered an environmental pollutant, causing physical and ecological impairments linked to the detachment and transport of sediments from the land surface to downstream communities. Additionally, aging flood control and water storage detention facilities have suffered the effects of sediment accumulation, spurring new research in the field of soil erosion and sediment yield estimation. Recent advances in technology have stimulated the use of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) and photogrammetric techniques for near-surface data collection and monitoring, with such techniques being used previously to achieve centimeter-level accuracy reconstruction of the land surface. This study seeks to apply UAS and photogrammetric techniques to quantify the sediment yield from four selected watersheds in the Albuquerque, NM metropolitan area during a monsoonal rain season. Results of this study suggest that changes in the land surface due to sediment erosion and deposition can accurately be detected using such techniques. Comparison of sediment yield estimations from UAS and photogrammetric techniques with Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation, rainfall simulation, and historical sediment yield estimates show that yield estimates can differ as much as 150%. Differences in sediment yield are likely due to key physical topographic factors which drive sediment erosion and sediment yield estimations, and include antecedent soil moisture, surface slope, ground cover, and land use. UAS and photogrammetric techniques show promise for future application of land surface monitoring but require careful application procedures to avoid error propagation during photograph processing and change detection.


sediment yield, unmanned aerial system (UAS), photogrammetry, Structure from Motion (SfM), Digital Surface Model (DSM), soil erosion

Document Type




Degree Name

Civil Engineering

Level of Degree


Department Name

Civil Engineering

First Committee Member (Chair)

Dr. Mark Stone

Second Committee Member

Dr. John Stormont

Third Committee Member

Dr. Su Zhang

Fourth Committee Member

Kevin Troutman