Experiments in Physical Geography – the 2nd semester begins

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By Richard Chiverrell

The 2nd semester really got under way yesterday with the 6/7 hours of non stop fun in the University of Liverpool’s New ‘Central Teaching Laboratory’ (CTL). 54 students converged on the 1st floor Environmental and Archaeological Sciences Laboratory for the 1st Year modules Experiments in Physical Geography (ENVS154) and Theory and Experiments in Earth Surface Processes (ENVS163) modules meeting the teaching team; Rich Chiverrell, Andy Plater, John Boyle, Andreas Lang and Janet Hooke ably supported by the very excellent postgraduate demonstrators and technicians from the CTL and Geography. Using new equipment and purpose-designed experiments the class worked in small groups (5-6 people) on 10 concurrent practical sessions, bringing life to flumes, river catchment simulation, XRF’s, microscopes, laser granulometers, flame photometers and spectrometers, sediment deformation equipments, more new shiny toys than you can shake a stick at……

The exercises explored how

  • How do variations in dirt cover on ice affects melting rates?
  • How can we use lake sediment records to measure both long-term soil erosion
    rates and carbon sequestration?
  • How do slope gradients and catchment cover (vegetation and urban) affect storm flow response?
  • What  regulates the delivery of sediments from catchments to lakes?
  • Why do slopes fail and soils erode?
  • Is the recent infilling of the Dee Estuary due to sea-level rise or sediment
    accretion?
  • Do changes in sand dune sediment composition reflect changes in wind speed and deflation?
  • What main factors control the rate of chemical weathering in soils?
  • Can particle size data be used to distinguish beach and river deposits?

Practical learning

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