GVSU Ravine Research

The ravines are a beautiful resource which should be protected, as well as a potential hazard to the surrounding infrastructure of the university if not carefully managed (Figure 1). The steep hillsides and ravines are currently undergoing rapid erosion, down cutting, and widespread slope instability. It is likely that this erosion is due, at least in part, to an increase in storm water runoff, which is directed to the ravines from impermeable surfaces such as parking lots and walkways.

Dr. John Weber has done previous studies with students which suggest that the down cutting rate over the past 40 years may be as much as an order of magnitude greater than it was prior to the construction of GVSU (John Weber, personal communication).

Dr. Peter Wampler and student summer scholar Patrick Womble are collecting data during the summer of 2006 to better understand the affect GVSU urbanization has had on the ravine system.  Specific research questions that we hope to answer include:

  • What is the flow volume directed toward the ravines from GVSU infrastructure?  How does this volume compare to what would be expected from a non-urbanized landscape?
  • What are the short-term and long-term erosion rates in the ravines?  Are these rates changing in response to efforts to slow erosion such as rock gabions and other structures?
  • How has urbanization and increased runoff in the past 43 years affected the sedimentation rates in the lower ravines?
  • What areas of the ravines are prone to slope instability and are these areas related to areas of increased runoff due to storm water discharge to the ravines?
  • How has erosion and sedimentation affected the water quality in the Grand River?
  • What can be done to inform decision makers about erosion and sedimentation in the ravines so that future land use and facilities are sustainable?

Here is a small PDF version of the Summer Scholar poster

2009 Data summary report prepared for Facilites Management

Page last modified February 4, 2013