Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Bed texture mapping in large rivers using recreational-grade sidescan sonar

December 1, 2016

The size-distribution and spatial organization of bed sediment, or bed ‘texture’, is a fundamental attribute of natural channels and is one important component of the physical habitat of aquatic ecosystems. ‘Recreational-grade’ sidescan sonar systems now offer the possibility of imaging, and subsequently quantifying bed texture at high resolution with minimal cost, or logistical effort. We are investigating the possibility of using sidescan sonar sensors on commercially available ‘fishfinders’ for within-channel bed-sediment characterization of mixed sand-gravel riverbeds in a debris-fan dominated canyon river. We analyzed repeat substrate mapping of data collected before and after the November 2014 High Flow Experiment on the Colorado River in lower Marble Canyon, Arizona. The mapping analysis resulted in sufficient spatial coverage (e.g. reach) and resolutions (e.g. centrimetric) to inform studies of the effects of changing bed substrates on salmonid spawning on large rivers. From this preliminary study, we argue that the approach could become a tractable and cost-effective tool for aquatic scientists to rapidly obtain bed texture maps without specialized knowledge of hydroacoustics. Bed texture maps can be used as a physical input for models relating ecosystem responses to hydrologic management.

Publication Year 2017
Title Bed texture mapping in large rivers using recreational-grade sidescan sonar
DOI 10.1201/9781315644479-51
Authors Daniel Hamill, Joseph M. Wheaton, Daniel D. Buscombe, Paul E. Grams, Theodore S. Melis
Publication Type Conference Paper
Publication Subtype Conference Paper
Index ID 70192247
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Southwest Biological Science Center