The sedimentology lab houses a variety of demonstration equipment used in courses such as GES 300: Sedimentology; GES 315: Marine Environments; and GES 224: Geological Hazards. The wave tank and recirculating flume, described in greater detail below, were designed and constructed by students enrolled in a senior engineering design course. Other equipment in the lab include: a Hydrobotics ROV (remotely operated vehicle), Micromeritics SediGraph 5100, Marsh-McBirney portable current meter, Sieve shaker, and a Sequoia-Turner spectrophotometer.
The wave tank is 24' long, 3'10" high, and 4' wide. It was recently extended from 16' to 24'. The tank walls are 1" Plexiglas and are supported within a welded and powder coated steel frame. The frame is supported on 1" plywood resting on a stand. Adjustable feet on the stand allow the frame and tank to be leveled on the floor. Waves are generated by an oscillating paddle mounted at one end of the wave tank. One of the benefits of this unusual and unique design is that the wave tank can be repaired and/or lengthened without breaking a permanent plastic bond because each wall of the tank can be removed by unbolting the section.
The original flume was built in 1987 by two undergraduates. Water recirculated through the 20' long flume and velocities were controlled by two butterfly valves connected to PVC pipes and the 7.5 hp pump. Over the years, leaks developed between the joined sections of Plexiglas, but other than the leaks, the operation of the flume was trouble-free. Rather than start again, it made more sense to rebuild the flume. This opportunity also allowed us to make some minor design changes. Largely based on the success of the collaborative effort that resulted in the wave tank, the rebuilding of the flume was undertaken by three students enrolled in the capstone engineering course. The students removed the Plexiglas and some of the old PVC pipes. The support platform was then modified to accommodate the slightly modified new tank, frame, and piping. A new valve mechanism was also installed to facilitate draining and cleaning of the flume.
One of the students' favorite demonstrations involves pouring gallons of milk down the flume to model turbidity currents.
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