An automated method for analysis of imbrication and flow direction in alluvial sediments is described that uses digital elevation models (DEMs) derived from three-dimensional laser scanning of dry gravel river beds. A global analysis of the DEM is used that does not depend on location and analysis of individual grains. The method is more convenient and quantitative than are existing techniques. Methods are described for determining the suitability of particular data sets for analysis by this method. The method is applied to gravel river beds on the South Island of New Zealand.

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