Advances in the continuous monitoring of erosion and deposition dynamics: Developments and applications of the new PEEP-3T system

D. M. Lawler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


In most episodic erosion and deposition systems, knowledge of the timing of geomorphological change, in relation to fluctuations in the driving forces, is crucial to strong erosion process inference, and model building, validation and development. A challenge for geomorphology, however, is that few studies have focused on geomorphological event structure (timing, magnitude, frequency and duration of individual erosion and deposition events), in relation to applied stresses, because of the absence of key monitoring methodologies. This paper therefore (a) presents full details of a new erosion and deposition measurement system - PEEP-3T - developed from the Photo-Electronic Erosion Pin sensor in five key areas, including the addition of nocturnal monitoring through the integration of the Thermal Consonance Timing (TCT) concept, to produce a continuous sensing system; (b) presents novel high-resolution datasets from the redesigned PEEP-3T system for river bank system of the Rivers Nidd and Wharfe, northern England, UK; and (c) comments on their potential for wider application throughout geomorphology to address these key measurement challenges. Relative to manual methods of erosion and deposition quantification, continuous PEEP-3T methodologies increase the temporal resolution of erosion/deposition event detection by more than three orders of magnitude (better than 1-second resolution if required), and this facility can significantly enhance process inference. Results show that river banks are highly dynamic thermally and respond quickly to radiation inputs. Data on bank retreat timing, fixed with PEEP-3T TCT evidence, confirmed that they were significantly delayed up to 55 h after flood peaks. One event occurred 13 h after emergence from the flow. This suggests that mass failure processes rather than fluid entrainment dominated the system. It is also shown how, by integrating turbidity instrumentation with TCT ideas, linkages between sediment supply and sediment flux can be forged at event timescales, and a lack of sediment exhaustion was evident here. Five challenges for wider geomorphological process investigation are discussed. This event-based dynamics approach, based on continuous monitoring methodologies, appears to have considerable wider potential for stronger process inference and model testing and validation in many areas of geomorphology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-39
Number of pages23
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Bank failure
  • Bank temperature
  • Light intensity
  • River bank erosion
  • River Nidd
  • River Wharfe
  • Soil erosion
  • Suspended sediment concentration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth-Surface Processes


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