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Water, water everywhere, and Silas Mariner may have been right
Date:12/10/2012

Eighty billion metric tons is an unfathomable amount to the human brain. Yet that number is the estimation of the global amount of sediment eroded on a yearly basis over the continental surface of the earth. An estimated 20 billion of these metric tons end up in the ocean water via rivers.

The action of water and wind is responsible for this massive redistribution of materials, leading to significant water pollution and a variety of ecological problems.

"This redistribution of material over the surface of the earth affects most of its physical, chemical, and biological processes in ways that are not well understood and which are exceedingly difficult to comprehend," Panos Diplas professor of civil and environmental engineering (CEE) at Virginia Tech, said.

Farmers familiar with the flow of a small stream on their property can tell you tales of when that seemingly innocent body of water reacts to heavy downpours and becomes two, three, or even 10 times its normal size. It can move culverts, change course, and wash away low-lying areas adjacent to the stream, including gravel roads. Agricultural run-off is a huge problem in farming.

Diplas has spent part of his career studying river mechanics, improving the understanding of erosion processes and sediment transport. His multiple research findings over more than two decades earned him the 2012 Hans Albert Einstein Award, a lifetime achievement award. He was also a member of a team that received the 2012 Karl Emil Hilgard Hydraulic Prize for the best paper, and both awards came from the American Society of Civil Engineers.

At Virginia Tech, Diplas directs the Kelso Baker Hydraulics Laboratory considered the best such facility in Virginia and the surrounding states. Civil engineering alumnus Kelso Baker of Sewickley, Pa., Class of 1951, provided the support to create t
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Contact: Lynn Nystrom
tansy@vt.edu
540-231-4371
Virginia Tech
Source:Eurekalert  

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