Explore The Jackson School of Geosciences DGS | BEG | UTIG

Experimental Study of Interacting Drainages

The controls of depositional belts associated with the basin axis vs flanking tributary streams on the stratigraphic architecture of rift basins were examined in the XES 2006 experiment.

See more in Kim et al. Geology 2011 »

Sediment Transport and Earth-surface Processes (STEP) Basin

Morphodynamics and Quantitative Stratigraphy Lab, UT PRC Bldg 120

Sediment, Water, and Deposition


The UT STEP basin has a size of 4 m wide, 5 m long, and 1.5 m tall. This experimental flume is designed to physically model morphodynamic and stratigraphic evolution of the fluviodeltaic system. Both 1D and 3D delta experiments can be conducted in the basin.

The Third in the World at UT


The unique subsidence mechanism in the STEP basin allows for investigating deltaic sedimentation under conditions of 1) fore-hinge (passive margin), 2) back-hinge (foreland basin), and 3) lateral tilting subsidence patterns. This facility will be one of only three experimental tanks in the world that provides a computer-controlled basement motion.

Triple the Controls, Triple the Fun(+damental understanding)!


Time variations of sediment supply and sea level can be simulated during experiments along with the subsidence control. These three basinal controls are independently set by a computer and precisely monitored in the facility.

Completed, March 2011

Chemo-Morpho-Dynamics (CMD) Flume

Chemo-Morphodynamics and Planetary Science Lab, UT EPS 2.108


Meandering Rivers on Mars


On Earth, meandering streams occur where the banks are resistant to erosion, which enhances narrow and deep channels. Often this is because the stream banks are held firm by vegetation. The ancient, highly sinuous channels with cutoffs found on Mars are enigmatic, because vegetation apparently plays no role in providing bank cohesion and fine sediment deposition. Possible mechanisms can be boiled down to ice under permafrost conditions and chemical processes. We are currently conducting carbonate flume experiments to investigate mechanisms creating meandering channels other than vegetation. Movie:

Yellowstone at Your Lab.


Cascading steps developed using artificial spring water at the Laboratory! Series of test flume experiments for Carbonate sedimentation have been performed in a proto-type Bio-Geo flume facility at UIUC. Biological, chemical, and geological controls on the surface morphology and carbonate stratigraphy will be examined in both this and a new system that will be assembled at the Morphodynamics Lab, UT. Movie: Carbonate Precipitation

Come back for more exciting experimental outcomes from the STEP basin and CMD flume!