Ultrasonic depth sounding provides useful and unexpected information about peak discharge and sediment transport when applied during storm flow in channels with erodible beds. Streambed elevation was measured with dual ultrasonic depth sounders during the rise, crest, and recession of a storm flow in the North Fork Toutle River, Washington, on 3 December 1987. The sounder transducers were held in the flow on a rigid pipe which was suspended from a boom over the channel thalweg. The 12 h episode of depth sounding detected the superposition of fine-gravel dunes on large bed waves, the depth-limited growth of mean dune heights from 13 to 25 cm, and bedform-related deposition and erosion in the channel thalweg. The streambed elevation rose 0.3 m in 2 h with increasing stream discharge. Dune heights diminished for about an hour before the peak river stage was attained. Scour of the streambed continued through the peak stage and recession, with 0.7 m of scour over 10 h. Rapid scour of the streambed produced a falling stage while discharge was still rising. Dune heights grew as flow depth increased after peak stage. Streambed elevation was lowered as large bed waves of fine gravel migrated along the thalweg with successively lower troughs leading each bed wave. Bed elevation records from the dual depth sounders were used to calculate dune celerities of 3-6 cm s-1 and bedform wavelengths of 2-11 m. The large bed waves were subtle, dune-like gravel bedforms with wavelengths of 25-30 m. The celerities and bedform dimensions yielded bedform transport weight rates between 3 and 20 kg s-1 m-1 and grain shear stresses between 40 and 100 N m-2 for the depth-sounding episode. ?? 1992.
Additional publication details
Gravel-bed deposition and erosion by bedform migration observed ultrasonically during storm flow, North Fork Toutle River, Washington