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CHR Spring Seminar

From source to mouth, a sediment budget of the Rhine River
March 25, 2015 to March 26, 2015


The Rhine River is the most important waterway in Europe. It connects the port of Rotterdam with inland industrial areas. Bed evolution of the Rhine River by erosion and sedimentation has been studied for years based on bed level surveys and transport measurements of bed load and suspended load. The subtraction of bed level data from two different time periods shows whether the river bed is subject to erosion or sedimentation, which is the most essential morphological information needed by river managers. Transport measurements also provide information on the types of sediments involved (e.g., gravel or sand) and on the mechanism of sediment transport (suspended load or bed load). However, both echo soundings and transport measurements fail to provide answers to essential questions such as: (1) Where are the sediments transported by the river coming from?, (2) Where are the eroded sediments going to? and (3) How is the morphological development in one part of the catchment linked to changes in other parts of the catchment? This kind of information is crucial for a real understanding of a river system and for optimizing sediment management strategies. It can only be obtained through the construction of a sediment budget, which is the balance between the amount of sediment entering a study area, the amount of sediment leaving the study area and the (change in) sediment storage in the study area itself.

In a joint research project, the Federal Institute of Hydrology and the RWTH Aachen University developed a sediment budget of the Rhine River from the source to the mouth, differentiated for size fractions stones, coarse gravel, fine gravel, sand and fines (silt and clay). During the seminar, the sediment budget is presented and gaps in knowledge and uncertainties are discussed. Special focus will be on sources and sinks of different grain size fractions and their impact on the sediment budget and the river bed evolution.


  • to discuss potential consequences of the sediment budget analysis on river management
  • to identify gaps in knowledge on sediment transport processes within the Rhine catchment
  • to assess methods to reduce uncertainties, e.g. in load measurements
IRSTEA, Centre de Lyon - Villeurbanne
5, rue de la Doua CS70077
Final Programme and Timetable

Day 1 – 25 March 2015:

Presentation of the research project “From source to mouth, a sediment budget of the Rhine River”

Session 1: Background
13:00 – 13:15 Welcome, general introduction – Hans Moser, President of CHR
13:15 – 13:30 Introduction to the project “From source to mouth, a sediment budget of the Rhine River” – Gudrun Hillebrand, Federal Institute of Hydrology, Koblenz
13:30 – 13:50 The Rhine basin – Roy Frings, RWTH Aachen University
13:50 – 14:10 Sediment budget analysis – Method and data set – Gudrun Hillebrand, Federal Institute of Hydrology, Koblenz
14:10 – 14:40 Coffee / Tea break
Session 2: Laboratory and field studies contributing to the sediment budget
14:40 – 15:00 Sand loss during bed load sampling – Karin Banhold, RWTH Aachen University
15:00 – 15:20 Estimating sand content of suspended loads – Birgit Astor, Federal Institute of Hydrology, Koblenz
15:20 – 15:40 Sedimentation on flood plains by radioactive dating – Karin Banhold,  RWTH Aachen University
15:40 – 16:10 Coffee / Tea break
Session 3: Sediment budget
16:10 – 16:55 Basin-scale morphodynamics of sand and gravel – Roy Frings RWTH Aachen University
16:55 – 17:20 Sediment budget of fines – Stefan Vollmer, Federal Institute of Hydrology, Koblenz
17:20 – 17:45 Discussion
ca. 17:45 Closure day 1

19:30 - Seminar dinner

Day 2 – 26 March 2015: Contributions of members of the projects’ advisory board and guests

Session 4 Process knowledge gaps
08:30 – 08:40 Introduction to day 2
08:40 – 09:00 Spatio temporal variability of sediment transport at various scales – Helmut Habersack, BOKU University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna
09:00 – 09:20 Dynamics of sedimentation of groyne fields – Nils Huber, Federal Waterways Engineering and Research Institute, Karlsruhe
09:20 – 09:40 Soil erosion and sediment yield – Thomas Hoffmann, University of Bonn
09:40 – 10:00 Applicability of measurement devices to determine sediment loads on different temporal scales – Philippe Belleudy, University of Grenoble
10:00 – 10:20 Sediment budgeting on event scale vs. long-term evolution – Marcel van der Perk, Utrecht University
10:20 – 10:50 Coffee / Tea break
Session 5 Use of sediment budgets in ecology, morphology and flood control
10:50 – 11:10 Passability for sediments – impact on ecology – Jürg Bloesch, EAWAG, Zürich
11:10 – 11:30 The importance of sediment supply data to modelling river morphodynamics – Astrid Blom, TU Delft
11:30 – 11:50 Morphology and floods in the Alpine region – Benno Zarn, Hunziker, Zarn & Partner AG, Domat/Ems
Session 6 Outlook CHR research agenda
11:50 – 12:10 Use of the sediment budget analysis – Wilfried ten Brinke, Blueland Consultancy, Utrecht
12:10 – 13:00 Discussion and wrap up
13:00 Closing of the spring seminar