Tracking Sediment Budgets in Remote Locations

A sediment budget measures how much material is being gained or lost by a landscape of interest over a given time period. Sediment budgets are frequently applied to rivers, dunefields, and coasts, and we’re also beginning to quantify sediment budgets on planetary bodies beyond earth. Accurate sediment budgets are extremely important for managing natural resources so as to minimize erosion or deposition, protect infrastructure, and conserve habitat.

One way of measuring the amount of sediment gained or lost by a landscape is to instrument that location and physically measure the mass or volume of sediment (we term this the ‘in-situ method’), but that approach is logistically challenging, especially in remote locations. On the other hand, we can survey the elevation of the landscape over multiple periods in time using remote sensing methods like lidar, and the difference in landscape elevation can provide information as to the volume of sediment gained or lost over time. That’s the only technique currently available in extremely remote areas, including other planetary bodies. However, it’s unclear how and when the remote sensing method will exhibit agreement with the in-situ method. This set of projects looks at when and where we can reliably extract sediment budgets from easily-obtained remote sensing data.

Alan Kasprak
Alan Kasprak
Assistant Professor of Geoscience

I study river processes and management through the lens of GIS and remote sensing.