Mapping river evolution in SAFL’s Main Channel

A recent experiment in our largest flume, known as the Main Channel, is documenting how rivers shift across the landscape. SAFL postdoctoral researcher Ajay Limaye, working with the Paola research group, is taking advantage of the 2.7-m width of the Main Channel for the experiment. The width provides plenty of space for the channel to stretch out in an expanse of sand. Time-lapse cameras capture the widening and evolving complexity of the channel, and a steady water supply from the Mississippi River is transformed into a model ocean at the end of the laboratory river.

"Rivers are often restless creatures,” said Ajay. “We’re working to discover how this restlessness has helped shape our world, now and in the past. The answers may be hidden somewhere in this big pile of sand.”

This research is supported by the donors to the American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund.