Standard Article

Sediment Transport

Surface Water Hydrology

  1. Matjaz Mikos

Published Online: 15 APR 2005

DOI: 10.1002/047147844X.sw858

Water Encyclopedia

Water Encyclopedia

How to Cite

Mikos, M. 2005. Sediment Transport. Water Encyclopedia. 3:417–421.

Author Information

  1. University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 APR 2005


Sediment transport is a natural process of transporting solid particles called sediments from erosion sources to deposition or sedimentation areas. This process has been shaping landscapes throughout geological time. Sediments, sedimentary rocks, and the process by which they were formed are scientifically studied by sedimentology.

One important source of sediments is soil erosion. Geologic soil erosion occurs as surface removal of farm, forest, and other erodible soils in the form of sheet erosion, interrill and rill erosion, gully erosion or deflation, mainly caused by impacts of raindrops (splash erosion, rain erosion) and overland flow on bare soils or land without dense vegetative cover to protect soils. It may be checked on farm soils by such farm management practices as contour plowing, crop rotation, and mulching. Accelerated erosion is the speeding up of erosive processes, such as deforestation, overgrazing, and construction, either directly or indirectly, by the intervention of humans. Its most obvious effects can be seen in the alteration of a river's regime by improper land use or by human intervention into the catchment area. Other important sediment sources are deposits of mass wasting phenomena, driven by gravity, such as rockfalls, rockslides, landslides, debris flows, and mudflows, exposed to fluvial processes of erosion, transportation, and sedimentation. The subjects of these processes are fluvial sediments—solid particles and particles of rock material that have been transported from their sources and deposited elsewhere by flowing water.


  • sediment transport;
  • fluvial hydraulics;
  • river mechanics;
  • river engineering;
  • mathematical modeling;
  • erosion;
  • sedimentation;
  • sedimentology