In evaluating the resistance of sediment particles to entrainment by the action of the flow in a river, the grain geometry is usually characterized using representative sizes. This approach has been dictated, initially by lack of physical insight, but more recently by the lack of analytical tools able to describe the 3-D nature of surface grain organization on water-worked sediment beds. Laboratory experiments are presented where mixed grain size beds were mobilized under a range of hydraulic and sediment input conditions. Detailed bed topography was measured at various stages. Statistical tools have been adopted which describe the degree of surface organization on water-worked sediment bed surfaces. The degree of particle organization and the bed stability can be evaluated in relative terms using the properties of the probability density distribution of the bed surface elevations and in absolute terms using a properly defined 2-D structure function. The methods described can be applied directly to natural water-worked surfaces given the availability of appropriate bed surface elevation data sets.