Erosion, transport and deposition of a sediment replenishment under flood conditions

Severin Stähly*, Mário J. Franca, Christopher T. Robinson, Anton J. Schleiss

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


River reaches downstream of dams with constant residual discharge often lack sediment supply and periodic high flows due to dam sediment retention and flow regulation, respectively. To test a novel multi-deposit methodology for defining environmental flows for activating the dynamics of the river morphology downstream of dams, a flood was released from Rossens Dam in Switzerland. This event was combined for the first time with a multi-deposit configuration of sediment replenishment consisting of four artificial deposits allocated as alternate bars along the riverbanks as a restoration measure. To validate the sediment transport behaviour observed in laboratory tests, stones were equipped with radiofrequency identification (RFID) passive integrated transponder (PIT) tags, a fixed antenna was installed at the river bed and a mobile antenna was used to enable the investigation of the erosion, transport and deposition of replenished sediments. The duration of the erosion period was determined for the tracked stones, and average transport velocities were found to be on the order of 10–3 m/s. To estimate the erosion efficiency of the flood, defined as the eroded tagged stones compared with the released water volume, the hydrograph was divided into different periods: rising limb, constant peak discharge, decreasing limb. During the rising limb of the flood, which lasted for 20% of the total flood duration, more than 40% of the PIT tags were transported. The defined erosion efficiency is a measure to support the hydrographic design of artificial flood releases from dams. The deposition of tagged stones resulted in a repeating cluster formation, as expected from previous laboratory experiments, creating an increase in hydraulic habitat diversity. Comparison of the results obtained in the field and from laboratory experiments confirmed the robustness of the multi-deposit sediment replenishment method. Combined with the knowledge gained on the erosion efficiency, these results could motivate further applications and research into multi-deposit sediment replenishment techniques as a habitat-oriented river restoration measure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3354-3367
Number of pages14
JournalEarth Surface Processes and Landforms
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • artificial flood release
  • RFID PIT tags
  • river morphology
  • river restoration
  • sediment transport
  • sustainable hydropower management


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