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Scientific Investigations Report 2010-5091

Bedload-Surrogate Monitoring Technologies

By John R. Gray, Jonathan B. Laronne, and Jeffrey D.G. Marr


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Advances in technologies for quantifying bedload fluxes and in some cases bedload size distributions in rivers show promise toward supplanting traditional physical samplers and sampling methods predicated on the collection and analysis of physical bedload samples. Four workshops held from 2002 to 2007 directly or peripherally addressed bedload-surrogate technologies, and results from these workshops have been compiled to evaluate the state-of-the-art in bedload monitoring. Papers from the 2007 workshop are published for the first time with this report. Selected research and publications since the 2007 workshop also are presented.

Traditional samplers used for some or all of the last eight decades include box or basket samplers, pan or tray samplers, pressure-difference samplers, and trough or pit samplers. Although still useful, the future niche of these devices may be as a means for calibrating bedload-surrogate technologies operating with active- and passive-type sensors, in many cases continuously and automatically at a river site. Active sensors include acoustic Doppler current profilers (ADCPs), sonar, radar, and smart sensors. Passive sensors include geophones (pipes or plates) in direct contact with the streambed, hydrophones deployed in the water column, impact columns, and magnetic detection. The ADCP for sand and geophones for gravel are currently the most developed techniques, several of which have been calibrated under both laboratory and field conditions.

Although none of the bedload-surrogate technologies described herein are broadly accepted for use in large-scale monitoring programs, several are under evaluation. The benefits of verifying and operationally deploying selected bedload-surrogate monitoring technologies could be considerable, providing for more frequent and consistent, less expensive, and arguably more accurate bedload data obtained with reduced personal risk for use in managing the world’s sedimentary resources.

Twenty-six papers are published for the first time as part of the 2007 International Bedload-Surrogate Monitoring Workshop (listed in table 2 in alphabetical order by name of first author). Sequential page numbering of the papers begins on page 38, after the last page of the report. The report plus the 26 papers comprise 430 pages.

Suggested citation:

Gray, J.R., Laronne, J.B., Marr, J.D.G., 2010, Bedload-surrogate monitoring technologies: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2010–5091, 37 p., (Also available at [The papers listed in table 2 are available only online from]

Example of a citation for a paper:

Marr, J.D.G., Gray, J.R., Davis, B.E., Ellis, Chris, and Johnson, Sara, 2010, Large-scale laboratory testing of bedload-monitoring technologies; overview of the StreamLab06 experiments, in Gray, J.R., Laronne, J.B., and Marr, J.D.G., Bedload-surrogate monitoring technologies: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2010-5091, p. 266-282, available only online from





Synopses of Four Sediment-Surrogate Workshops from 2002 through 2007

Summary of Activities on Bedload-Surrogate Monitoring Technologies

Selected Relevant Bedload-Surrogate Research and Publications Since April 2007



Selected References

Appendix 1. List of Attendees, International Bedload-Surrogate Monitoring Workshop, April 11–14, 2007, Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States
Appendix 2. Sponsors of the International Bedload-Surrogate Monitoring Workshop, April 11–14, 2007, Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States

Posted August 2010

For additional information contact:
John R. Gray
U.S. Geological Survey
12201 Sunrise Valley Drive
Reston, VA 20192

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