Elwha River plume, Washington

UW Sediment Dynamics Group


We are based in the Marine Science Building (MSB), located on Portage Bay on the south part of the UW campus. Most of our lab and field facilities are located in or adjacent to MSB.


R/V Al

The first of our two work boats is a 17-foot aluminum skiff which we have used extensively on the Willapa and Skagit tidal flats, Lake Chelan, and other locations around Puget Sound and Washington state. Al has a bow-mounted A-frame for deploying instruments or coring/grab samples, and a custom ADCP mount for water-column current profiling.

R/V Moby

Moby is a 16-foot rigid inflatable which also has seen extensive work in Willapa Bay, Skagit Bay, and Lake Chelan. While lacking an A-frame, Moby is a speedy and seaworthly platform for inland and coastal research.


Our group owns two barges which are primarily used for coring work. The first, large barge is equipped with a generator and hydraulic winch for coring, and was most recently used in Lake Chelan, Washington. This deepwater barge is equipped with a 15-foot derrick and 300 m of line and is typically used for collecting kasten cores. The second barge was built specifically for tidal-flat work and is unique in that it has four jack-up legs for deployment during low water. The jack-up barge operates as a boat during high tide, and then the feet are dropped, creating a stable platform from which to core or make measurements throughout the tidal cycle. It is generally used for vibracoring and push cores. Both barges disassemble and can be transported by truck to a research area of interest.

Larger vessels

For larger-scale operations, our group has worked on many oceanographic research vessels in the UNOLS fleet and elsewhere. Since 2000, we have worked on the R/V Thomas G. Thompson, R/V Roger Revelle, R/V Clifford A. Barnes, R/V Centennial, R/V Kaharoa, R/V Western Venturer, R/V Ocean Researcher I & III, and many more.

Other field equipment

Our group has a large array of field equipment, suitable for deployment in both shallow coastal areas and also deeper sites along the continental shelf and upper slope.

Coring gear

  • Kasten corers
  • Box corers
  • Portable vibracore system


  • SonTek ADVs
  • RDI ADCPs (300, 600, & 1200 kHz models)
  • Nortek Aquadopp Profiler
  • Aquatec multifrequency Acoustic Backscatter Sensor
  • Sea-Bird & RBR CTDs

Lab facilities

In order to investigate the depositional processes associated with each unique environment we study, we employ a variety methods to characterize textural and radiochemical signatures. We maintain several labs for wet chemistry, and a partial listing of our lab instrumentation includes:

  • 3 MicroMeritics Sedigraphs
  • 2 Ortec Alpha Spectroscopy systems
  • 3 planar Gamma Spectroscopy systems (2 Canberra, 1 Ortec)
  • 1 3-m settling column
  • Digital X-ray system
  • Vacuum filtering system for suspended-sediment samples

Bennett Building

The Bennett Building is our equipment workshop, storage facility, and clubhouse. This venerable building is where we stage equipment for deployment, repair broken gear, and have informal lab meetings and the occasional cold beverage.