Abstract During the 1988–1989 Sediment Transport Events on Shelves and Slopes (STRESS) experiment, a 1-MHz acoustic backscatter system (ABSS), deployed in 90 m of water off the California coast measured vertical profiles of suspended sediment concentration from 1.5 to (nominally) 26 meters above bottom (m.a.b.). An 8-week-long time series was obtained, showing major sediment transport events (storms) in late December and early January. Comparison of the acoustics measurements from 1.5 m.a.b. are made with optical backscatter system (OBS) concentration estimates lower in the boundary layer (0.25 m.a.b.). Correlations between ABSS and OBS concentration measurements and the boundary layer forcing functions (waves, currents, and their non-linear interaction) provided a variety of insights into the nature of the sediment transport of the STRESS site. Transport rates and integrated transport are seen to be dominated by the largest storm events.