We study sediment transport processes and recent deposits, in environments ranging from inland river systems to continental shelves. Our current projects include studies of sediment transport across the Alaskan Beaufort Shelf and resulting shelf evolution, and applications of low-cost DIY backscatter sensors to measurements of sediment transport through Arctic and sub-Arctic rivers. We use many tools common to physical oceanography to measure hydrodynamics and sediment transport in river and coastal systems. We also use traditional sedimentological methods and radioisotope measurements to better understand how fast material deposits, erodes, and accumulates.
Our work involves field studies (vessel surveys, mooring deployments, and coring), lab analyses of sediments, and a lot of coding to analyze instrument data. We often partner with colleagues to conduct sediment transport and morphodynamic modeling studies informed by in situ data collection.
Some current research questions and directions include:
- What happens to the products of rapid coastal erosion in the Arctic? Are sediments rapidly transported across the shelf to the slope, or do they remain on the inner shelf and provide a buffer for further erosion?
- How have Arctic continental shelves and related coastal landforms evolved over the past several millennia, and how might the evolve in the next millennium if sea ice disappears?
- How can we leverage low-cost sensor technologies to better monitor water and sediment discharge through remote arctic rivers and coastal zones, in spite of seasonal ice cover?
- How have coastal sediment accumulation rates in systems impacted by development (like coastal Oregon) or rapid environmental changes (like northern coastal Alaska) changed in the past century? How well can we identify major sedimentary events and/or long-term trends in accumulation?