Loughborough University
Harper_et_al-2017-River_Research_and_Applications.pdf (603.43 kB)

The complexities of measuring fine sediment accumulation within gravel-bed rivers

Download (603.43 kB)
journal contribution
posted on 2017-10-20, 11:02 authored by S.E. Harper, I.D.L. Foster, D.M. Lawler, Kate Mathers, M. McKenzie, G.E. Petts
Fine sediment storage within gravel beds is a key component of catchment sediment budgets and affects the health of benthic and hyporheic habitats. Here, we assess the performance of two substrate infiltration traps for the characterization of fine sediment ( < 2 mm) accumulation. One design, the vertically extending sediment trap, permits both lateral and vertical exchange in the sediment column, whereas the second type, a more traditional fixed-area sediment trap with impermeable side walls, permits only vertical exchange. Traps were deployed at three sites on the River Tame, Birmingham (UK), over varying installation periods (14-401 days). Results indicate that the facilitation of multiple pathways of exchange within the vertically extending sediment traps (vertical and lateral) resulted in a significantly greater amount of fine sediment being accumulated than in adjacent fixed-area sediment traps. This suggests that lateral transport is an important component contributing to fine sediment accumulation. However, there are notable and inherent problems associated with the use of different types of sediment trap and in the way the data should be presented and interpreted. This paper discusses the practical implications of the study findings and reflects on the complexities of undertaking accurate sediment deposition measurements in the field.


The support of the UK Natural Environment Research Council in providing a Research Grant (GST032604) under the URGENT thematic programme through a PhD studentship is gratefully acknowledged.



  • Social Sciences


  • Geography and Environment

Published in

River Research and Applications


HARPER, S.E. ... et al, 2017. The complexities of measuring fine sediment accumulation within gravel-bed rivers. River Research and Applications, 33(10), pp.1575-1584.


Wiley © The Authors


  • VoR (Version of Record)

Publisher statement

This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/ by/4.0/

Acceptance date


Publication date



This is an Open Access Article. It is published by Wiley under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence (CC BY). Full details of this licence are available at: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/






  • en