A new approach to define surface/sub-surface transition in gravel beds

Heather Haynes, Anne Ockelford, Elisa Vignaga, William Holmes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The vertical structure of river beds varies temporally and spatially in response to hydraulic regime, sediment mobility, grain size distribution and faunal interaction. Implicit are changes to the active layer depth and bed porosity, both critical in describing processes such as armour layer development, surface-subsurface exchange processes and siltation/sealing. Whilst measurements of the bed surface are increasingly informed by quantitative and spatial measurement techniques (e.g. laser displacement scanning), material opacity has precluded the full 3-D bed structure analysis required to accurately define the surface-subsurface transition. To overcome this problem, this paper provides Magnetic Resonance Imaging data of vertical bed porosity profiles. Uniform and bimodal (σg = 2.1) sand-gravel beds are considered following restructuring under sub-threshold flow durations of 60 and 960 minutes. MRI data are compared to traditional 2.5-D laser displacement scans and six robust definitions of the surface-subsurface transition are provided; these form the focus of discussion.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1589-1606
Number of pages18
JournalActa Geophysica
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2012

Bibliographical note

© 2012 Institute of Geophysics, Polish Academy of Sciences. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License. (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)


  • magnetic resonance
  • imaging
  • laser scanning
  • g stress history
  • porosity


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