Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

M.S. in Engineering Science


Geology and Geological Engineering

First Advisor

Robert M. Holt

Second Advisor

Andrew O'Reilly

Third Advisor

Gregg R. Davidson

Relational Format



Image capturing in flow experiments has been used for fluid mechanics research since the early 1970s. Interactions of fluid flow between the vadose zone and permanent water table are of great interest to researchers because this zone is responsible for all recharge waters, pollutant transport and even irrigation efficiency for agriculture. Griffith, et al. (2011) developed an approach where constructed reproducible “geologically realistic” sand configurations are deposited in sand-filled experimental chambers or cells for light-transmitted flow visualization experiments. This method creates reproducible, reverse graded, layered (stratified) thin-slab sand chambers for visualizing multiphase flow through porous media. Reverse-graded stratification of sand chambers mimic many naturally occurring sedimentary deposits. Sand-filled cells use light as nonintrusive tools for measuring water saturation in two-dimensions (2-D). Homogeneous and heterogeneous sand configurations can be produced to visualize the complex physics of the unsaturated zone. The experimental procedure developed by Griffith, et al. (2011) was designed using now outdated and obsolete equipment. We have modernized this approach with new PARKER daedal linear actuator and programed projects/code for multiple configurations. We have also updated the camera with new software and image processing software. Modernization of transmitted-light source, robotic equipment, redesigned experimental chambers, and newly developed analytical procedures have greatly reduced time and cost per experiment. We have demonstrated the functionality of the new equipment to generate micro-layers and macro-heterogeneous sand-filled chambers.


Emphasis: Geological Engineering

Included in

Hydrology Commons



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