Estimating Bedload in Sand-Bed Channels Using Bottom Tracking from an Acoustic Doppler Profiler

  1. Michael D. Blum5,
  2. Susan B. Marriott6 and
  3. Suzanne F. Leclair7
  1. Paul Villard1,†,
  2. Michael Church2 and
  3. Ray Kostaschuk3

Published Online: 17 MAR 2009

DOI: 10.1002/9781444304350.ch12

Fluvial Sedimentology VII

Fluvial Sedimentology VII

How to Cite

Villard, P., Church, M. and Kostaschuk, R. (2005) Estimating Bedload in Sand-Bed Channels Using Bottom Tracking from an Acoustic Doppler Profiler, in Fluvial Sedimentology VII (eds M. D. Blum, S. B. Marriott and S. F. Leclair), Blackwell Publishing Ltd., Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444304350.ch12

Editor Information

  1. 5

    Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA

  2. 6

    School of Geography and Environmental Management, University of the West of England, Bristol BS16 1QY, UK

  3. 7

    Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Tulane University, Dimwiddie Hall, New Orleans, LA 70118, USA

Author Information

  1. 1

    Department of Geography, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, V6T 1Z2, Canada

  2. 2

    Department of Geography and Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, V6T 1Z2, Canada

  3. 3

    Department of Geography, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, N1G 2W1, Canada

  1. PARISH Geomorphic Ltd, Georgetown, Ontario, L7G 4J9 Canada

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 17 MAR 2009
  2. Published Print: 15 FEB 2005

Book Series:

  1. Special Publication Number 35 of the International Association of Sedimentologists

Book Series Editors:

  1. Ian Jarvis

Series Editor Information

  1. School of Earth Sciences and Geography, Centre for Earth and Environmental Science Research, Kingston University, Penrhyn Road, Kingston-upon-Thames KT1 2EE, UK

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781405126519

Online ISBN: 9781444304350



  • estimating bedload in sand-bed channels;
  • estimating bedload transport with acoustic Doppler profiler;
  • Van Rijn bedload transport formula;
  • acoustic Doppler profiler (ADP);
  • establishing sediment transport in sand-bed channels - vital to edimentological and engineering studies


A method to estimate bedload in sand-bed rivers using bottom tracking from an acoustic Doppler profiler (ADP) is outlined and tested. The velocity of a mobile sand bed is related to the difference between the ‘apparent’ boat velocity with respect to the bed measured with ADP bottom tracking and the ‘actual’ boat velocity measured with a differential global positioning system (DGPS). Under simple assumptions the velocity of a mobile sand bed can be converted to an estimate of bedload. Estimates of bedload using this method were acquired from a launch anchored over the upper stoss face of large sand dunes in the Fraser River, British Columbia. These estimates are compared with measurements from a Helley–Smith sampler and predictions from the Van Rijn bedload formula. All three methods produce consistent and comparable values. Near concordance was observed between the mechanical and acoustic estimates of bedload transport, although with a large degree of scatter, indicating that both instruments are measuring similar fractions of near-bed transport. In comparison, the correlation with computed transport, although stronger, was more strongly biased. Part of the difficulty in reconciling the measurements lies in the arbitrary nature of the division between ‘bedload’ and near-bed suspension in transport over a sand bed. Within this constraint, ADP technology shows potential to yield remote measurements of bedload in sand-bed channels, escaping the limitations of mechanical samplers.