Comparison of four in situ sediment erosion devices

TJ Tolhurst, KS Black, David Maxwell Paterson, H Mitchener, R Termaat, SA Shayler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

132 Citations (Scopus)


Predictive modelling of estuarine sediment erosion and transport requires a description of the erosional properties of the bed. The two main variables of interest are the critical erosion shear stress (tau(cr)) and the erosion rate (epsilon). A number of different erosion devices exist to measure the erosion shear stress of intertidal sediments in situ. These devices apply different strategies to induce and measure erosion, and the area over which erosion is integrated varies greatly. In addition, the definition of erosion threshold differs between workers. This makes comparison of data collected from different devices very difficult. Four different types of erosion device, Microcosm system, In Situ Erosion Flume (ISEF), SedErode and cohesive strength meter (CSM) were used during the July 1997 EC INTRMUD Humber estuary (UK) field campaign. These devices were deployed simultaneously on the Skeffling intertidal mudflat to allow comparison of the data generated. This involved the comparison of suspended particulate matter (SPM) time series, the nature of the applied shear stress (tau(o)) and the area over which erosion was integrated. The initial goal was to develop a standard analysis procedure for comparison of stability measurements. The erosion threshold calculated from area normalised suspended particulate matter (SPMn) time series was relatively comparable between devices especially between the Microcosm and ISEF, However, device size and natural sediment spatial heterogeneity affected the results. The erosion rate varied by orders of magnitude between the different devices. This variation seemed to be due to the considerable differences in device deployment time. In conclusion, SPM data from different devices are broadly comparable, whilst erosion rates are only comparable if the shear stress steps are of the same duration. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1397-1418
Number of pages22
JournalContinental Shelf Research
Issue number10-11
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2000


  • erosion threshold
  • erosion rate
  • cohesive sediment
  • instrumentation
  • UK
  • Humber estuary
  • Skeffling mudflats


Dive into the research topics of 'Comparison of four in situ sediment erosion devices'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this