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OSW Hydroacoustics
Image of the VMT user interface
Depth-averaged currents and distribution of near-surface specific conductance in coastal Lake Erie in the vicinity of Villa Angela Beach and Euclid Creek, Ohio on September 11, 2012 Produced in VMT using data from a TRDI 600 KHz Rio Grande ADCP and supplementary specific conductance data from an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) that completed a simulataeous three-dimensional survey.
Image of the VMT user interface
Depth-averaged velocity and primary and secondary velocities (Rozovskii definition) in the confluence of the White and Wabash Rivers along the Illinois and Indiana border, January 12, 2008. Produced in VMT using data from a TRDI 1200 KHz Rio Grande ADCP and additional formatting using Adobe Illustrator.


VMT is a Matlab-based software for processing and visualizing ADCP data collected along transects in rivers or other bodies of water. VMT allows rapid processing, visualization, and analysis of a range of ADCP datasets and includes utilities to export ADCP data to files compatible with ArcGIS, Tecplot, and Google Earth. The software can be used to explore patterns of three-dimensional fluid motion through several methods for calculation of secondary flows (e.g. Rhoads and Kenworthy, 1998; Lane et al., 2000). The software also includes capabilities for analyzing the acoustic backscatter and bathymetric data from the ADCP. A user-friendly graphical user interface (GUI) enhances program functionality and provides ready access to two- and three- dimensional plotting functions, allowing rapid display and interrogation of velocity, backscatter, and bathymetry data.

See our paper in Earth Surface Processes and Landforms (DOI: 10.1002/esp.3367)

Downloading the Software

USGS Software Users Rights Notice

The software is available both as compiled executables and source code. To access the compiled executables, click the links in the table below. The source code is housed in a GitHub repository, available here as a ZIP archive. To install, extract the contents of the ZIP file, ensuring that the folder structure in the file is preserved, and start VMT.m in Matlab version 2012a or newer. Note that to enable full functionality of VMT in source code mode, you will need the Mapping Toolbox license in your distribution of Matlab.

Changes and Known Issues
4.09 Recommended
July 15, 2018
-Requires Matlab Runtime Libraries Version 9.0, 64-bit version
New functionality includes:
-Renamed the ASCII2GIS tool to the GIS Export Tool and enabled SonTek support.
-Revised the Batch Mode tool to enable SonTek support
-Revised and impoved the User Guide
-Fixed several small bugs
VMT compiled as a ZIP file. To install, extract ZIP file contents to a folder on the user's machine, and run VMT.exe. USGS Site Administrators: VMT and the Matlab Runtime libraries 2015b (9.0) are available via SCCM.
4.08 Allowed -Requires Matlab Runtime Libraries Version 9.0, 64-bit version
-Upgraded the Excel Output functionality, and fixed an assoicated bug (See GitHub Issue #6)
-Modified the self-installer to allow users to install VMT even if the MCR is not installed (See GitHub Issue #8)
-Added full-featured support for SonTek M9/S5 ADCPs
-Added support for TDRI RiverPro ADCP (testing)
-Added time averaging support (internal computations)
-Changed near-bed interpolation method for TDRI data (when SonTek support was first introduced, VMT changed the interpolation scheme, resulting in excessive censoring of near-bed data for TDRI ADCPs)
-Added ability to manually override the start bank of the Mean Cross-section
-Added a height above the bed (HAB) depth reference (typically not needed)
-Fixed improper handling of ADCP ensemble times (See GitHub Issue #3)
-Fixed several minor bugs
-Compiled in Matlab 2015b
4.07 Allowed VMT now uses a self-installer!
-Requires Matlab Runtime Libraries Version 7.17, 32-bit version (even on 64-bit operating systems)
-Updated Excel output to include smoothed variables (i.e. same as plots)
-Added info about smoothing/spacing ground distance to log window
-Added ability to change WSE for each transect in batch tool
-Added figure customization tool/dialog
-Added ability to plot vorticity quantities
-New Height above Bottom plotting reference (for flat/artificial beds)
-Minor bug fixes and tweaks

Note: This version has some known bugs related to processing SonTek data. Not recommended for M9 or S5 measurements.
4.06 Allowed -Requires Matlab Runtime Libraries Version 7.17, 32-bit version (even on 64-bit operating systems)
-Works with all TDRI ADCPs
-Limited support for SonTek ADCPs
-Includes new support for editing figure colors, fonts, etc.
-Includes other bug fixes and feature tweaks noted in feedback from the Velocity Mapping and Bathymetry with ADCPs class (SW2782)

Using the Software and Tutorials

The following resources are available for using the VMT software.

OSW CLASS: Velocity Mapping and Bathymetry with ADCPs

This week-long class is designed to provide ADCP users familiar with discharge measurements with the skills, resources, and techniques necessary for velocity mapping and bathymetry surveys with an ADCP. Students will learn how to plan and execute surveys through several days of classroom and field work. Students will learn to process the data they collected and visualize and export it in a range of formats for delivery to cooperators, modelers, and the general public.

Class Information

For details on the class, or to sign up for the next class session, see the links below or contact Ryan Jackson, Kevin Oberg, or Frank Engel.

Selected References

Parsons, D.R., Jackson, P.R., Czuba, J.A., Oberg, K.A., Mueller, D.S., Rhoads, B., Best, J.L., Johnson, K.K., Engel, F., and Riley, J. (2013) Velocity Mapping Toolbox (VMT): a processing and visualization suite for moving-vessel ADCP measurements, Earth Surface Processes and Landforms. doi: 10.1002/esp.3367.

Lane, S.N., K.F. Bradbrook, K.S. Richards, P.M. Biron, and A.G. Roy (2000) Secondary circulation cells in river channel confluences: Measurement artefacts or coherent flow structures?, Hydrol. Processes, 14, 2047- 2071.

Rhoads, B.L., and S.T. Kenworthy (1999) On secondary circulation, helical motion and Rozovskii-based analysis of time-averaged two-dimensional velocity fields at confluences. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 24, 369-375.