geology

GEOMORPHOLOGY & INVASIVE SPECIES

 

Here in the University of Kentucky physical geography program, we have a regular weekly meeting called BRAG (Biogeomorphology Research & Analysis Group) in which various faculty and graduate students from geography and other programs cuss, discuss, debate, and speculate about a wide range of topics centered on geomorphology-ecology interactions. A couple of years ago we focused quite a bit on the biogeomorphic ecosystem engineering effects of invasive species. That led to development of a review paper, which at long last was published, in the Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics—The biogeomorphic impacts of invasive species. The co-authors are myself, Songlin Fei, and Michael Shouse. Songlin, now at Purdue University, was then in the Forestry department at UK, and a regular participant in BRAG. Michael, now at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, was then a geography PhD student here.

The abstract is below, and a ScienceDaily news release is here: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/12/141211115522.htm

Office Hours with Kevin Yeager and Julia Johnson

In this pre-Thanksgiving episode of Office Hours, Kevin Yeager of Geology and Julia Johnson of English swing in to tell us about their work. Being a husband and wife team, there are interesting ways in which the research they each do intertwines! And then, before we go, Professor Johnson tells us all about the MFA in Creative Writing now available at UK!

This podcast was produced by David Cole.

Creative Commons License
Office Hours with Kevin Yeager and Julia Johnson by UK College of A&S is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

NATURAL SELECTION

 

Natural selection is most familiar with respect to Darwinian evolution. However, though some biologists will argue that selection acts only on genes, this is a very narrow and restricted view. Selection operates on a variety of environmental phenomena, and at a variety of scales. In hydrology and geomorphology, the principle of gradient selection dictates that the most efficient flow paths are preferred over less efficient ones, and that these paths tend to be reinforced. That’s why water flows organize themselves into channels (more efficient than diffuse flows), and channels into networks. The principle of resistance selection in geomorphology is simply that more resistant features will persist while less resistant ones will be removed more quickly. Thus geomorphic processes select for certain forms and features and against others. Among others, Gerald Nanson, Rowl Twidale, and Luna Leopold have written on selection in geomorphology, and Henry Lin, among others, in hydrology.

 

Principle of gradient selection at work--Board Camp Creek, Arkansas

Finding Faults: Inside Sean Bemis' Research

Sean Bemis put his hands together side by side to demonstrate two plates of the earth’s crust with a smooth boundary running between them. But that boundary is not always smooth and those plates do not always sit together neatly, which makes the earth’s crust a dynamic and complex surface.

ANASTAMOSING CHANNELS

Recently published in Earth Surface Processes & Landforms: Anastamosing Channels in the Lower Neches River Valley, Texas. The abstract is below: 

 

Active and semi-active anastomosing Holocene channels upstream of the delta in the lower valley of the meandering Neches River in southeast Texas represent several morphologically distinct and hydrologically independent channel systems. These appear to have a common origin as multi-thread crevasse channels strongly influenced by antecedent morphology. Levee breaching leads to steeper cross-valley flows toward floodplain basins associated with Pleistocene meander scars, creating multi-thread channels that persist due to additional tributary contributions and ground water inputs. Results are consistent with the notion of plural systems where main channels, tributaries, and sub-channels may have different morphologies and hydrogeomorphic functions. The adjacent Trinity and Sabine Rivers have similar environmental controls, yet the Trinity lacks evidence of extensive anastomosing channels on its floodplain, and those of the Sabine appear to be of different origin. The paper highlights the effects of geographical and historical contingency and hydrological idiosyncrasy.

 

A WHIRLWIND OF GEOMORPHIC IMPACTS

 

Hot off the press, our (myself, Dan Marion, Chad Yocum, Stephanie Mehlhope, and Jeff Olson) study of geomorphic impacts of a tornado blowdown event. You can get a copy here: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Jonathan_Phillips4/publications

The abstract is below:

Geomorphological Impacts of a tornado disturbance in a subtropical forest.

SOUTH PARK & GEOMORPHOLOGY

 

I got a few e-mails last week about fluvial geomorphology—not because of anything I have done, or any current issues or unresolved questions in that field. No, it was because a character in the irreverent Comedy Central show South Park was identified on the show as a fluvial geomorphologist. Apparently that gives us a measure of popular culture street cred.

South Park character Randy Marsh, in his pop singer Lorde disguise.

An actual geomorphologist named Randy (R. Schaetzl, Department of Geography, Michigan State University).

 

Early in October, an episode of the show was based on the premise that the New Zealand pop singer Lorde is actually a 45 year old man, Randy Marsh, a regular character on the show. As explained during the episode, “Lorde isn’t just a singer, she’s also a very talented scientist who specialises in fluvial geomorphology.” If this is all a bit confusing, see http://musicfeeds.com.au/news/lordes-true-identity-revealed-on-south-park/

SCALE RATIOS

 

In fluid dynamics the Reynolds Number is the ratio of inertial to viscous forces, and is used to distinguish laminar from turbulent flow. Peter Haff (2007) applied this logic to develop a landscape Reynolds number, and also suggested how other generalized “Reynolds numbers” can be constructed as ratios of large-scale to small-scale diffusivities to measure the efficiencies of complex processes that affect the surface. As far as I know, there has been little follow-up of this suggestion, but the premise seems to me quite promising at an even more general level, to produce dimensionless indices reflecting the ratio of larger to smaller scale sets of processes or relationships. The attached file gives a couple of examples. 

 

Sedimentary, My Dear Watson

Kevin Yeager's lab can measure the rate of coastline loss in Louisiana or document the effects of exposure to radioactive fallout.

Nicholas Pinter: Rivers and Flooding in the 21st Century

"Rivers and Flooding in the 21st Century" Nicholas Pinter Southern Illinois University

University of Kentucky College of Arts & Sciences, Geology Department Sept. 18th, 2014

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