ERIE Research Facilities

Rainfall Erosion Facility (REF)

Figure A.  REF, Geomorphology Laboratory at the University at Buffalo (photo courtesy of Dr. Sean Bennett, University at Buffalo).

The REF has three components: (1) a large soil box (flume) with adjustable slope and base level; (2) a rainfall simulator capable of delivering rates of 30 to 150 mm hr-1 at or near terminal velocity; and (3) state-of-the-art digital imaging hardware for producing very high resolution digital elevation models (DEMs) of the evolving bed surface (Figure B). 

The digital images of the bed surface are obtained by a 10-Megapixel Canon EOS 20D digital SLR camera with a 20 mm lens attached to a moveable carriage on a track suspended above the flume.  The camera is equipped with a remote capture device by which the camera may be actuated from a computer on the ground. 

Velocities are measured using a Nortek Vectrino acoustic Doppler velocimeter.  This instrument is in use in the Geomorphology Laboratory and provides three-dimensional velocity data in a sampling volume of 6 mm diameter at up to 25 Hz. 

Figure B.  (upper) DEM of evolving streambed and (lower) digital orthophotograph (photo courtesy of Dr. Sean Bennett, University at Buffalo).