A new sampler for extracting bed material sediment from sand and gravel beds in navigable rivers

Michael B. Singer

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    15 Citations (Scopus)


    Grain-size distributions or bed material sediment in large alluvial rivers are required in various scientific and management applications, but characterizing gravel beds in navigable rivers is hampered by difficulties in sediment extraction. The newly developed and preliminarily tested sampler reported here can extract sediment from a range of riverbeds. The 36 x 23 x 28 cm stainless steel toothed sampler is deployed from and dragged downstream by the weight of a jet boat, and it improves upon previous samplers that are unable to penetrate gravel bed surfaces, have small apertures, and/or cannot retain fine sediment. The presented sampler was used to extract 167 bed material sediment. samples of up to 16 kg (dry weight) with an average sample size of similar to 6 kg from 67 cross-sections spanning 160 river kilometres along the Sacramento River. It was also tested at three sites on a subaerial bar to compare surface, subsurface, and sampler distributions. Sampler penetration is similar to 5 cm. The device collects individual samples that satisfy the criterion for bed material sediment whereby the largest particle comprises no more than 5% of the total sample mass in gravel and sand beds, except where the degree of surface armouring is large (e.g. armor ratios >> 2) and where more than 10% of bed material sediment is composed of grains larger than 64 mm. When aggregated samples exceed 15 kg, all satisfy the criterion whereby the largest particle comprises no more than 1 % of the total sample mass. Samples closely resemble surface size distributions, except where armouring is strong. The sampler should be subject to more rigorous field testing, but many of its current limitations are expected to become negligible with the advent a larger, heavier version of the sampling device. Copyright (C) 2008. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2277-2284
    Number of pages8
    JournalEarth Surface Processes and Landforms
    Issue number14
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2008


    • bed material sampling
    • navigable rivers
    • aquatic habitat
    • downstream fining


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