Yellow River Delta, China

The Huanghe delta, China, is one of the most dynamic and heavily urbanized coastal landscapes in the world. We aim to utilize an ancient record of human-landscape interaction and a unrivaled pace of present-day fluvial dynamics to inform frameworks for the management of river and deltaic landscapes globally. We accomplish this through predictive models, field observation, and analytical work that together build a comprehensive picture for the delta development. This project is a multi-investigator, cross disciplinary and integrative effort that includes researchers from around the country and world.

Selenga River Delta, Russia

This study examines the sedimentary dynamics occurring in part of an active rift-basin margin (Baikal Rift), by evaluating how sediment transport processes and tectonics influence deltaic stratigraphy. The location of our investigation is the Selenga River delta, Lake Baikal, which is a 30 million year old lacustrine fan delta developed in Siberia. We utilize advanced instruments to measure hydrological properties of the deltaic channels, and use collected field data to inform and validate analytical and numerical models of hydrology and sediment transport. The distribution of sediment grain size in the deltaic channels, as related to hydrodynamics and sediment transport, play a critical role for influencing Selenga delta stratigraphy, because the sustained tectonic subsidence leads to high preservation potential of the sedimentary deposits associated with the delta topset. The interactions between the Selenga River delta and the active Baikal Rift basin provide an opportunity to explore the interactions between modern deltaic sedimentation processes and tectonics that affect the production of basin stratigraphy.

Western Irish Namurian Basin

The Western Irish Namurian (Carboniferous) Basin (WINB) in County Clare, Ireland, contains coastal exposures of a variety of sedimentary environments ranging from fluvial deltaic deposits to deep water turbidites. However, the spatiotemporal relationships among these deposits are obscured by fold-thrust belt related deformation associated with the Variscan (Hercynian) orogeny and rift-related deformation associated with the breakup of Pangea. This project aims to develop a detailed evaluation of the interconnectedness of the sedimentary deposits and the physical processes that shaped the internal stratigraphy of the cyclothem deposits in the WINB by accounting for the nature and magnitude of the tectonic deformation affecting these strata. Reconstructed strata can provide a new perspective on the stratigraphic spatial variability in the WINB, including the size and distribution of fluvial-deltaic distributary channels within the Tullig and Kilkee Cyclothems. Channel characteristics (e.g. channel height and width, grain size, etc.) will be used to calculate avulsion nodal points, constrain the physical processes that shaped the sedimentology of the fluvial dispersal system, and evaluate the spatiotemporal variability between the cyclothems.

White Sands, New Mexico

White Sands National Monument is a dune field located in south-central New Mexico in the Tularosa Basin, a fault-bounded rift basin between the San Andres and Sacremento Mountains. The dune field is comprised of almost entirely gypsum sand that is generated from a deflating surface of paleo-Lake Otero evaporite deposits. Dune-forming winds come from the southwest and occur infrequently; the dunes therefore migrate to the east/north-east at rates of 1–5 m yr−1 in punctuated events dictated by the wind regime. The upwind margin of the dune field, defined as the crest of the westernmost
slip face, presents a significant topographic rise from the relatively flat deflating playa. Our research on the dune field is motivated by observations of grain size variation and dune field geometry stability over decadal timescales. We seek to combine field survey and numerical modeling to discover explanations for the development of the dune field in both the modern and extending into the past.