Wish me luck

Well I just submitted a proposal for the acquisition of some LIDAR data. Light Detection and Ranging is a method for collecting really high resolution, precise elevation data (or really data off of any surface). In the geosciences, we generally would kill for a good dataset of flown LIDAR (i.e Airborne Laser Swath Mapping).

What you say do I want this complicated, yet awesome elevation data for? Well, you can read my proposal here if you care to. Basically, due to some massive flooding on the Wabash and Ohio Rivers in June, the Wabash river drastically changed course through a process called meander cutoff. I have been out to the site a couple of times since the floods, and it will be very cool to continue to study this stuff. Although, this isn’t my dissertation work, I am excited for the research, and subsequent publications which will come from this. One of the other great things is that both my advisor Bruce Rhoads, and a colleague Jim Best are fully behind me and helped tremendously in getting the proposal in shape. It is very nice to have that kind of support!

Things are shaping up to be very productive this year. I already am part of a AGU book chapter (forthcoming), and am doing work with Bruce on river confluence dynamics, processing my own data from this summer (more on this later), and now working on this cutoff channel project. If I do get the LIDAR, it will be spectacular. I am really, really excited and hopeful! My fingers are crossed.

Class is going great. It is really complicated, I would love to summarize some of the topics, but it is just hopeless to do in any way that isn’t dreadfully complex, but I’ll try anyway in bullet style:

  • Open channel flows (e.g. rivers, canals, etc.) move water under the force of gravity downslope
  • this water resists its movement, generating turbulence (i.e, heterogeneity in instantaneous flow movement)
  • this turbulence, in combination with the weight of the water shear against the bed, and can move sediment in a variety of complex ways
  • professor of said class sees fit to make us model these complex processes 🙂
  • said models take up all of the students’ free time, sanity, and will to live
  • nuf said

Some pictures from the cutoff:


5 responses to “Wish me luck

  1. If you use googleearth to look at the same area, you can see the differences. Your picture shows a sandbar building up on the south side of Mackey’s Island that isn’t there in googleearth. I think the build up of that sandbar is what is causing the enlargement of the cutoff channel, and eventually the cutoff of Mackey’s Bend.

  2. Don, Thanks so much for reading the proposal! Yeah, I know exactly which bar you are referring to. And I agree with you to a degree. The imagery that is in GoogleEarth for this site is also pretty cool. Did you notice that the river is in flood flow in GE? You can see all of the cutoff network channels inundated with water (I’ll try to add an image to this comment).


    Back to your sediment bar. Yes, it will have an effect on the flow structure exiting the cutoff channel. It is very complex out there, and I am not sure what the net effect of that bar will be. Another interesting thing. That bar is essentially sediment from the land where the cutuff is now. There are also two more large bars that were formed with the cutoff. Also, they USACE had to dredge the Ohio river to clear out massive amounts of sediment deposited from the cutoff event.

    So, yeah, the bar(s) are new and are a result of the cutoff itself. They will impact the flow structure, and thus the morphodynamics (shape and change) of the whole cutoff system. Hence this proposal and further research.

    FYI, this proposal is a bit atypical. It had some strange rubrics to follow, like only citing 3 reference (unheard of in most proposals), and having specified headings. Plus, it could only be 3 pages including figures, one of which had to be the satellite image! It was very difficult to say everything I needed in 3 page, so a lot of other little detailed are omitted…just the bare bones there.

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  4. BUMMER!!

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