100 Blessey Hall
Our research in the sediment dynamics group aims to improve our understanding of the processes that shape the submarine and terrestrial landscapes that comprise continental margins. Many open research questions associated with the morphodynamics of the Earth’s surface and construction of stratigraphy can be studied at reduced scale. Answering some of these questions will be the aim of the research conducted in the sediment dynamics laboratory.
Currently the laboratory houses a deepwater delta basin, a delta basin and a recirculating teaching flume.
This basin has approximate dimensions of 2.2 m deep, 6 m long, and 4 m wide. The depth of the basin is great enough to conduct experiments focused on both delta construction under conditions of varying base-level and deep-water/continental slope fan construction. This depth and width are also great enough to construct delta/fan deposits thick enough to investigate stratigraphic architecture with minimal boundary-effects imposed by the basin walls. We have the option of two methods for delivering water and sediment to the basin. 1) An ocean control system that controls water discharge rates into the basin in addition to providing millimeter resolution of base-level via a siphon attached to a motorized weir. Sediment is delivered to the basin via an Accufeed Vibrascrew Sediment feeder. Base-level and sediment feed the basin through a computer controlled interface. 2) A constant head tank system fed from a reservoir mixing tank via a centrifugal pump. An XYZ data collection carriage houses a Keyence long distance reflective laser sensor and data logger. This system allows us to monitor the topography of the evolving sediment surface and collect topographic maps with grid spacing as low as 2 mm grids and a vertical resolution of 0.1 mm. Learn more about the cart system.
This basin has approximate dimensions of 0.65 m deep, 4.2 m long, and 2.8 m wide. The depth of the basin is great enough to conduct experiments focused on delta construction under conditions of varying base-level. Millimeter resolution of base-level is controlled via a motorized weir, while sediment is delivered to the basin via an Accufeed Vibrascrew Sediment feeder. Base-level and sediment feed to the basin are controlled through a computer interface. Topography along horizontal transects are collected in basin using oblique digital images of lines cast by vertical laser sheets from which true topography can be calculated at millimeter resolution in both the horizontal and vertical direction.
The teaching flume is 0.3 m deep, 2.75 m long, and 0.1 m wide. This flume is used as part of practicals for the laboratory portion of several classes. In particular the flume is used as part of a practical where students can measure sediment transport under various water discharges, observe the formation of different sediment bedforms under various water discharges and measure profiles of velocity in the water column for different water discharge settings. The flume is also be used as part of pilot research projects.