Measurement of stream channel habitat using sonar

Regulated Rivers: Research & Management
By: , and 



An efficient and low cost technique using a sonar system was evaluated for describing channel geometry and quantifying inundated area in a large river. The boat-mounted portable sonar equipment was used to record water depths and river width measurements for direct storage on a laptop computer. The field data collected from repeated traverses at a cross-section were evaluated to determine the precision of the system and field technique. Results from validation at two different sites showed average sample standard deviations (S.D.s) of 0.12 m for these complete cross-sections, with coefficient of variations of 10%. Validation using only the mid-channel river cross-section data yields an average sample S.D. of 0.05 m, with a coefficient of variation below 5%, at a stable and gauged river site using only measurements of water depths greater than 0.6 m. Accuracy of the sonar system was evaluated by comparison to traditionally surveyed transect data from a regularly gauged site. We observed an average mean squared deviation of 46.0 cm2, considering only that portion of the cross-section inundated by more than 0.6 m of water. Our procedure proved to be a reliable, accurate, safe, quick, and economic method to record river depths, discharges, bed conditions, and substratum composition necessary for stream habitat studies.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Measurement of stream channel habitat using sonar
Series title Regulated Rivers: Research & Management
DOI 10.1002/(SICI)1099-1646(1998110)14:6<511::AID-RRR517>3.0.CO;2-7
Volume 14
Issue 6
Year Published 1998
Language English
Publisher Wiley
Description 7 p.
First page 511
Last page 517