climate and Earth processes
earth surface processes and environment
Doug Edmonds, Laura Wasylenki, Brian Yanites, Chen Zhu
DOUG EDMONDS Associate Professor of Geological Sciences | Sedimentology
Malcom and Sylvia Boyce Chair in Geological Sciences
It has been an exciting year in the Sedimentary Systems re-
search group. The heart and soul of Doug’s research group are
the scientists and students. That is why Doug is so pleased with
the recent success of people in his group. Notably, two post-doc-
toral researchers under Doug’s supervision have accepted fac-
ulty positions at other universities. Dr. Alejandra Ortiz is now an
assistant professor at North Carolina State University and Dr.

Jon Czuba is now an assistant professor at Virginia Tech. On top
of that, Dr. Rebecca Caldwell successfully defended her Ph.D. in
July and will start her full-time position at Chevron in late 2017.

In other news, Ph.D. student Scott David received a Dissertation
Year Fellowship from Indiana University in recognition of his successes. Ph.D.

student Elizabeth Olliver published her first paper in Estuarine and Coastal
Shelf Science, and Ph.D. student Jeff Valenza was offered an internship at Chev-
ron during summer 2017. M.S. student Graham Johnston accepted a full-time
position with ExxonMobil starting in late 2018. M.S. student Matt Wanker just
completed a month-long field season at the Judson Mead Geologic Field Sta-
tion surveying gravel tracers in the Jefferson River.

In addition to all these student successes Doug and his group have initiated a
new and exciting project looking at floodplains in Indiana as part of research
funding by the Petroleum Research Fund of the American Chemical Society and
the Grand Challenges project funded by IU. This past May during flood season,
Doug and his group measured water discharge and sediment transport in the
floodplain channels of the East Fork of White River. The floodplain channels are
interesting geomorphic features that regulate the connectivity of the river and
floodplain, control sedimentation patterns, and ultimately influence the biodi-
versity. These data will be used to calibrate models aimed at trying to under-
stand the function of these channels.

Doug’s research site:
top: Graham Johnston measures the water discharge through
a floodplain channel using an acoustic Doppler current profiler.

middle: Students pondering the nature of floodplain channels.

bottom: Jon Czuba surveying the water line of the East Fork of
the White River.

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Study: River deltas ‘self-organize’ to withstand
human and natural disturbances
Quoting IU Newsroom, October 31, 2017:
River delta channels that carry water, sediment and nutrients may appear to be ran-
dom and arbitrary in how they are organized. But research by a team that includes
an Indiana University geologist finds there is order to the complexity.

The researchers, using field observations and mathematical modeling, concluded
that deltas self-organize according to an “optimality principle,” creating networks of
channels that increase the diversity of ways in which sediment is transported.

“Channel networks are the blood vessels of a delta system, and their job is to deliver
water, sediment and nutrients to the larger delta environment,” said study co-au-
thor Douglas Edmonds. “We have uncovered an organizing principle that describes
how these channel configure themselves to do that job.”
The article, “Entropy and optimality in river deltas,” is published in the Proceedings
of the National Academy of Science.

Edmonds is an associate professor and the Malcolm and Sylvia Boyce Chair in the
Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences in the IU Bloomington College of
Arts and Sciences. Other authors are at the University of California, Irvine; the Uni-
versity of Nevada, Reno; the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne; and
the University of Padua in Italy.

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