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Improved quantification of sediment transport in lowland rivers

Start: 7-2018
End: 4-2023
Status: Active

Contact details

Judith Zomer

Wageningen University & Research


Improved quantification of sediment transport in the river Waal through improved field methods and application of transport formulae.

Figure 1: Collecting water samples during a field campaign with Rijkswaterstaat-CIV. Photo by Jan-Willem Mol (Rijkswaterstaat).

Motivation and Practical Challenge

River management aims to ensure flood protection, guarantee safe infrastructure and facilitate navigation. Especially since climate change and sea level rise will impact the Dutch delta, thorough understanding of the river as well as the ability to predict future change through numerical models is important. Both rely upon information of sediment going through the river. This study aims to improve the methods to measure sediment transport and to calculate sediment transport. This is achieved by analyses based on data that has been gathered over the past years for monitoring as well as data from additional field campaigns. We specifically focus on the role of multiple scales of dunes migrating through the river and how dune tracking can lead to large scale estimates of bedload sediment transport.

Research Challenge

How can the quantification of sediment transport in the Dutch river Waal be improved?

Innovative Components

In the first study, we have observed that a secondary scale of small dunes are superimposed on the larger primary dunes in the river Waal. These small dunes migrate very fast, resulting in a large associated sediment transport rate, which is similar , or even exceeds the transport rate connected to primary dunes.
In a second study, we built upon this work and study when and where this secondary scale of dunes is present in the river Waal. To analyze a large multibeam echosounding dataset, a tool has been developed to separate dune scales and identify and characterize primary and secondary dunes.
Results indicate that the two dune scales coexist throughout the river Waal and for a large range of discharges. Currently, we aim to understand the competition and interaction between these two scales. For the final study, a large dataset has been created based on a field campaign in the river Waal, near Tiel. Based on this dataset, both suspended and bedload sediment transport will be quantified and used to validate transport formulae.

Relevant for whom and where?

Increased understanding of river dunes and improved quantification of sediment transport is relevant for river managers as well as researchers as a basis for numerical modelling, predicting flood risk, understanding the river system to prepare for future developments.

Findings and practical application

An important finding is that a secondary scale of dunes is very important in the river Waal, since they occur over space and time, and associated transport is similar to, or even exceeds that by primary dunes. In the next steps, we determine the implications for sediment transport quantification and develop field methods to quantify transport as well as improve the application of transport formulae.

Status for day to day practice

  • The tool can be used to identify and characterize dunes based on river bed elevation scans.
  • Knowledge that a secondary scale of dunes is present at range of discharges throughout the Waal. This secondary scale migrates fast, so has a large impact on sediment transport.

Next Steps

How multiple scales of dunes relate to large scale sediment transport quantification. Relevance of dune tracking and impact on how different sediment transport formulae should be applied.

Last modified: 18/02/2024

Contributing researchers

Judith Zomer

Wageningen University & Research

Supervisory team

Prof. dr. ir. Ton Hoitink

Wageningen University & Research

Suleyman naqshband

Wageningen University & Research

Dr. Bart Vermeulen

Wageningen University & Research

User group

River sediment flux into the delta and coastal zone

Judith Zomer

Wageningen University & Research

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Project outputs

The morphodynamics of multiscale dunes in the Waal River

29/02/2024 by Judith Zomer

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Bevat: Abstract

Rapidly Migrating Secondary Bedforms Can Persist on the Lee of Slowly Migrating Primary River Dunes

21/01/2021 by Judith Zomer

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Bevat: Publication

Competition and interaction between two bedform scales in the Dutch river Waal

Current work focusses on understanding the competition and interaction between primary and secondary bedforms in a lowland river, based on a large, multi-year dataset of bed elevation scans as well as a dedicated field campaign that maps the dynamics of both primary and secondary dunes.

13/04/2022 by Judith Zomer

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Bevat: Abstract

Superimposed bedforms in the Rhine-Meuse delta

This research aims to elucidate the role of superimposed bedforms in rivers and to determine whether superimposed bedforms contribute to the transport of bed sediment and how they interact with primary dunes.

13/02/2020 by Judith Zomer

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Bevat: Abstract