Marine Sediment Transport

Elana Leithold,
North Carolina State University at Raleigh


This course is designed as an introduction to the theory and reality of sediment transport in the marine environment. The course includes both lectures and laboratory experiments that investigate the processes that control the settling of sediment grains through fluids, the erosion of sediment grains from the seabed, the transport of sediments as suspended load and bedload, and the formation and migration of bedforms such as ripples and dunes. In addition to covering the basic physics that governs these processes, the course reviews real-world complications, how sediment transport measurements are made in the field, and case studies of sediment transport in particular marine environments, from estuaries to the deep sea.

Course Size:

Course Format:
Integrated lecture and lab

Institution Type:
University with graduate programs, including doctoral programs

Course Context:

This is an upper level undergraduate and beginning graduate course that serves as to meet an "Earth Surface Processes" requirement for Earth Science majors and also serves requirements in the Marine Sciences curriculum. Introductory physics and calculus are prerequisites.

Course Content:

This is an introductory course in sediment transport that focuses on the marine environment, but is applicable to fresh water environments (rivers, lakes) as well. Students conduct a number of simple bench top experiments to learn sediment transport principles and use math skills (algebra, graph interpretation) to do sediment transport calculations.



Teaching Materials:

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