Dynamics of Channel Erosion

The physical processes that create eroded channels and drainage networks are recreated to study the physics of channelization. The depth of channels as a function of time is measured using a specialized laser-aided topography technique. Water is fed from a reservoir and the pressure is maintained at a constant level. The water seeps through a porous medium (in this case, "sand" consisting of monodisperse glass beads) and creates channels on the slope.

This project is funded by the Department of Energy. Collaborators include Braunen Smith and Arshad Kudrolli (Clark University), and Alex Lobkovsky and Dan Rothman (Massachusetts Institute of Technology).

This image was displayed at the APS March Meeting 2008, New Orleans, as part of the Topical Group on Statistical and Nonlinear Physics Gallery of Nonlinear Images.

Additional information, a photograph of the experimental apparatus, and a movie of the experiment.

Dynamics of Channel Erosion illustrated in red, yellow, aqua, and blue.

Image credit:  Braunen Smith and Arshad Kudrolli, Clark University, Worcester, MA