The effects of survey frequency on estimates of scour and fill in braided river model

John B. Lindsay, Peter E. Ashmore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Estimates of scour and fill in rivers that are derived by differencing topographic surfaces are known to be negatively biased by local compensation of scour and fill between surveys but the magnitude of bias is not well known. This study examines the effect of survey frequency on volumes of scour and fill over a period of active channel braiding in a small-scale river model. A 100 min, high temporal resolution time series of digital elevation models is artificially coarsened by selectively removing models. The resulting four overlapping time series have survey intervals of 10 min, 20 min, 50 min and 100 min. Cumulative scour and fill volumes for the 100 min period are compared between the four series. It is concluded that the decay in measured volumes of scour and fill with increased survey interval can be described using inverse functions. Cumulative scour-fill volumes are approximately 420 per cent greater over the study period for 10 min survey intervals than for a 100 min interval. After the 100 min period of competent flow, nearly 65 per cent of the channel area experienced significant compensation of scour and fill. Several compensation mechanisms were identified in association with braided channel kinetics, including lateral channel migration, the migration of bed forms, and channel avulsion. It is demonstrated that by negatively biasing scour, fill and net estimates, this error significantly affects morphological approaches to the estimation of bed load sediment transport. Copyright © 2002 John Wiley and Sons, Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-43
Number of pages16
JournalEarth Surface Processes and Landforms
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2002


  • Bed load sediment transport
  • Measurement bias
  • Morphological methods
  • Scour and fill
  • Survey frequency


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