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Graffiti for science

December 16, 2016

The determination of the spatial distribution of erosive processes is difficult. Especially in rough terrain the installation of measuring devices for a continuous measurement is complicated. This is why to date there are only few data available, especially on millimeter scale. In a new feasibility study, a Swiss-German team of scientists with the participation of Jens Turowski, Helmholtz Centre Potsdam - GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, shows how erosive processes can be visualized by simple painting.

In a gorge in the Swiss Alps close to Zermatt, the scientists applied horizontal and vertical patterns of paint on an area of thirty times five meters of rock and monitored them for three years via photographs taken from defined positions. Based on these photographs they were able to show the erosive processes in time that become visible by the removal of the paint. They call the new method "erosion painting". Erosion painting allows for an analysis of the spatial distribution and intensity of erosive processes in a riverbed. Knowledge on this helps to better understand the physics behind erosion. The study aims at implementing the new method within process research.

Until now, sophisticated techniques like photogrammetry, fixed monitoring stations, laser scanning, or erosion sensors had to be applied to measure and map topographic changes on rock surfaces. But "why so complicated?" the scientists asked themselves. Erosion painting needs no expensive installation, can be applied fast and on high-resolution even in rough terrain, and only requires visual inspection via photography. Jens Turowski: „Using paint is a cheap and easy method to analyze the spatial distribution of erosive processes. With this study we would like to show that this method can be applied for science". By repeated laser scans the scientists did validate their method. This also revealed that laser scanning cannot assess erosion rates on smallest millimeter scale that is, however, made visible by erosion painting.

The scientists only used environmental friendly, water-insoluble latex paint. To minimize the effect on nature the scientists advise to only use the paint sparsely and to avoid sensitive areas.
-end-
Original study: Alexander R. Beer, James W. Kirchner, Jens M., Turowski, 2016. Graffiti for science - Erosion painting reveals spatially variable erosivity of sediment-laden flows. Earth Surface Dynamics 4, 885-894. DOI: 10.5194/esurf-4-885-2016

GFZ GeoForschungsZentrum Potsdam, Helmholtz Centre

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Erosion: Changing Earth's Surface (Amazing Science)
by Robin Koontz (Author), Matthew Harrad (Illustrator)

Did you know that rain, waves, wind, snow, and ice can change the shape of Earth’s surface? They can create valleys, sea stacks, caves, and rock arches. Learn about the natural forces of erosion and how they shape the land. View Details


Weathering and Erosion (Science Readers: Content and Literacy)
by Torrey Maloof (Author)

The Earth's surface is always changing. Learn how weathering and erosion constantly reshapes the earth through wind, water, and more! Even people can drastically change the earth's surface. With the help of easy-to-read text and bright, colorful images, this reader simplifies challenging scientific topics while keeping students engaged from cover to cover. This reader also includes instructions for an engaging science activity where students can see what happens when land erodes. A helpful glossary and index are also included for additional support. View Details


Cracking Up: A Story About Erosion (Science Works)
by Jacqui Bailey (Author), Matthew Lilly (Illustrator)

Describes the process of erosion and how water, ice, wind, and sun wear away at Earth's surface. View Details


Erosion (Reading Essentials in Science)
by Virginia Castleman (Author)

Earth is changing every day as a result of erosion, and weather plays a major part. View Details


Erosion (Let's Explore Science)
by Shirley Duke (Author)

Examines the different forces of erosion, such as wind, waves, acid rain, and glaciers and explains how those forces affect the topography of the earth. View Details


Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations
by David R. Montgomery (Author)

Dirt, soil, call it what you want—it's everywhere we go. It is the root of our existence, supporting our feet, our farms, our cities. This fascinating yet disquieting book finds, however, that we are running out of dirt, and it's no laughing matter. An engaging natural and cultural history of soil that sweeps from ancient civilizations to modern times, Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations explores the compelling idea that we are—and have long been—using up Earth's soil. Once bare of protective vegetation and exposed to wind and rain, cultivated soils erode bit by bit, slowly enough... View Details


Soil Erosion and How to Prevent It (Everybody Digs Soil)
by Natalie Hyde (Author)

Looks at the processes of weathering, erosion, and deposition, and how they affect plant and animal life. View Details


Erosion (Princeton Series of Contemporary Poets)
by Jorie Graham (Author)


From Erosion:

SAN SEPOLCRO




Jorie Graham
?


. . . . How clean

the mind is,

holy grave. It is this girl

by Piero

della Francesca, unbuttoning

her blue dress,

her mantle of weather,

to go into

labor. Come, we can go in.

It is before

the birth of god. No-one

has risen yet

to the museums, to the assembly

line bodies

and wings to the open air

market. This is

what the living do: go in.

It's a long... View Details


Erosion and Weathering (Rocks: The Hard Facts)
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Discusses the different causes of erosion and weathering, how these phenomena create problems for people, and their role in the rock cycle. View Details


Examining Erosion (Searchlight Books)
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Introduces the concept of erosion, including why it happens, the difference between gradual and drastic erosion, and why erosion is important to the Earth's rock cycle. View Details

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