Mathematical Geology

, Volume 20, Issue 3, pp 205–225 | Cite as

Statistical properties of sediment bed profiles in alluvial channels

  • André Robert


The objective of this study is to investigate in detail the statistical properties of series of bed elevations measured on gravel-bed and sand-bed alluvial channels, in order to identify means of quantifying bed roughness effects on streamflow. The semivariogram is used as the basic statistical method for investigating roughness properties of bed profiles obtained from field work and laboratory experiments. For sand bedforms, the semivariograms include exponential and periodic components from which can be obtained reliable measures of bedform spacing and height, as well as information on the degree of regularity of bedform arrangement. Because of the irregular nature of gravel-bed profiles, the approach in this case uses the semivariogram to investigate fractal properties of series of bed elevations to determine scales of bed roughness associated with grain sizes and small-scale bedforms and to estimate the Hausdorff dimension corresponding to each scale. These superimposed scales of roughness may be responsible for the greater flow resistance generally observed in gravel-bed rivers rather than predicted from the theoretical friction equation.

Key words

semivariogram fractals river bedforms flow resistance 


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Copyright information

© International Association for Mathematical Geology 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • André Robert
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of GeographyUniversity of MontréalMontréalCanada

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