Water Center


Date of this Version



United States Geological Survey, Scientific Investigations Report 2013-5087

doi: 10.3133/sir20135087



United States government work


The United States Geological Survey (USGS), in cooperation with the North Dakota Department of Transportation and the North Dakota State Water Commission, completed hydrographic surveys at six Missouri River bridges and one Yellowstone River bridge during the 2011 flood of the Missouri River system. Bridges surveyed are located near the cities of Cartwright, Buford, Williston, Washburn, and Bismarck, N. Dak. The river in the vicinity of the bridges and the channel through the city of Bismarck, N. Dak., were surveyed. The hydrographic surveys were conducted using a high-resolution multibeam echosounder (MBES), the RESON SeaBatTM 7125, during June 6–9 and June 28–July 9, 2011. The surveyed area at each bridge site extended 820 feet upstream from the bridge to 820 feet downstream from the bridge. The surveyed reach through Bismarck consisted of 18 miles of the main channel wherever depth was sufficient. Results from these emergency surveys aided the North Dakota Department of Transportation in evaluating the structural integrity of the bridges during high-flow conditions. In addition, the sustained high flows made feasible the surveying of a large section of the normally shallow channel with the MBES.

In general, results from sequential bridge surveys showed that as discharge increased between the first and second surveys at a given site, there was a general trend of channel scour. Locally, complex responses of scour in some areas and deposition in other areas of the channel were identified. Similarly, scour around bridge piers also showed complex responses to the increase in flow between the two surveys. Results for the survey area of the river channel through Bismarck show that, in general, scour occurred around river structures or where the river has tight bends and channel narrowing. The data collected during the surveys are provided electronically in two different file formats: comma delimited text and CARIS Spatial Archive (CSARTM) format.