Seismic array constraints on reach-scale bedload transport

B. Schmandt, D. Gaeuman, R. Stewart, S. M. Hansen, V. C. Tsai, J. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)
26 Downloads (Pure)


Measurements and mechanical models of heterogeneous bedload transport in rivers remain basic challenges for studies of landscape evolution and watershed management. A 700 m reach of the Trinity River (northern California, USA), a large gravel-bed river, was instrumented with an array of 76 seismographs during a dam-controlled flood and gravel augmentation to investigate the potential for out-ofstream monitoring. The temporal response to gravel augmentation during constant discharge provides strong evidence of seismic sensitivity to bedload transport and aids in identification of the seismic frequencies most sensitive to bedload in the study area. Following gravel augmentations, the seismic array reveals a period of enhanced transport that spans most or all of the reach for ~7-10 h. Neither the duration nor the downstream extent of enhanced transport would have been constrained without the seismic array. Sensitivity to along-stream transport variations is further demonstrated by seismic amplitudes that decrease between the upper and lower halves of the reach consistent with decreased bedload flux constrained by time-lapse bathymetry. Insight into the magnitude of impact energy that reaches the bed is also gained from the seismic array. Observed peak seismic power is ~1%-5% of that predicted by a model of saltation over exposed bedrock. Our results suggest that dissipation of impact energy due to cover effects needs to be considered to seismically constrain bedload transport rates, and that noninvasive constraints from seismology can be used to test and refine mechanical models of bedload transport.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)299-302
Number of pages4
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2017
Externally publishedYes

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