Oceanography The Official Magazine of
The Oceanography Society
Volume 28 Issue 03

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Volume 28, No. 3
Pages 220 - 227


HANDS-ON OCEANOGRAPHY • Turbidity Currents: Comparing Theory and Observation in the Lab

By Joseph D. Ortiz  and Adiël A. Klompmaker  
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Purpose of Activity

The goal of this exercise is to enable students to explore some of the controls on fluid flow by having them simulate turbidity currents using lock-gate exchange tanks while varying the bed slope and the turbidity. Observational data are compared with theoretical relationships known from the scientific literature. The exercise promotes collaborative/peer learning and critical thinking while using a physical model and analyzing results.


Ortiz, J.D., and A.A. Klompmaker. 2015. Turbidity currents: Comparing theory and observation in the lab. Oceanography 28(3):220–227, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2015.73.

Supplementary Materials

» Lab Instructions and Worksheet (1.1 MB)

» Accompanying Spreadsheet (48 KB Excel spreadsheet): The Excel spreadsheet includes a table that can be used to solve Equations 8 and 9 in this lab exercise.


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Copyright & Usage

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