Amazon River expedition 2016

14 07 2016
  1. The large rivers Group of Prof. Latrubesse conducted fieldwork in the Amazon basin during the summer of 2016, supported by the ongoing NSF projects (EAR-FESD and GSB-DDRI) and the International Brazilian Sciences Without Borders Program. The field work covered the entire middle to lower reach of the Amazon River, from Manaus to Monte Alegre (approximately 800 km reach) and consisted of more than 1200 miles of geophysical fluvial survey, geomorphic descriptions and water and sediment sampling. The field campaign lead by Prof. Latrubesse was conducted with Edward Park (UT-Austin, Prof. Latrubesse’s doctoral candidate), Prof. Maximiliano Bayer (UFG-Brazil), Landerlei Almeida (UNESP, Prof. Latrubesse’s doctoral student), and Xiwei Guo (UT-Austin, Prof. Latrubesse’s master student). The main objective was collecting hydrophysical and geologic data to understand the functioning and evolution of the Amazon River. It also supported the Doctoral dissertation research project of Edward Park (PhD Candidate).The primary goal of the research was to investigate the potential existence of multiple Quaternary terraces in the lower Amazon, the role of large tributaries (e.g. Negro, Madeira and Tapajos Rivers) and vast floodplains on suspended sediment transport patterns along the anabranching main channel of the Amazon River. Floodplains are key features in understanding the sediment dynamics of the Amazon, as these floodplains are long term incomplete and active sedimentary sinks storing hundreds of million tons of sediment each year since the late Pleistocene. The team collected river flow velocity and acoustic backscatter data using Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP, RDI’s Rio Grande), side-scan images (and nadir depth) to investigate bed morphology using Humminbird HD 899c, a Hanna Water Quality Meter (pH, temperature, turbidity, etc.), and collected more than 100 suspended sediment samples and over 20 20-Liter buckets of water samples to assess the sediment concentration and grain size distribution of suspended sediments along the Amazon River and major floodplains lakes. Sub-bottom profiler (SyQwest’s StrataBox) was employed to assess the sub-bottom geology and sedimentary architecture.


  1. The team measuring with a boat the water discharge at Obidos, the lowermost gauge station of the Amazon River. From left to right: Landerlei Almeida Santos (UNESP-Brazil). Prof. Latrubesse, Edward Park, Prof. Maximiliano Bayer (UFG) and Xiwei Guo.
  2. Sedimentological survey in the Amazon’s banks
  3. Living and working at the Captain Brandao ship.

Professor Edgardo Latrubesse Won the 2016 AAG Grove Karl Gilbert Award for Excellence in Geomorphic Research

14 04 2016

Dr. Edgardo Latrubesse, Professor of Geography and the Environment at UT, won the 2016 AAG Grove Karl Gilbert Award for Excellence in Geomorphic Research. This honor was awarded this past week by the American Association of Geographers Geomorphology Specialty Group at the AAG Annual Meetings in San Francisco. The Grove Karl Gilbert Award is one of the most important on geomorphology in the USA and internationally. It is presented to the author(s) of a single significant contribution to the published research literature in geomorphology during the past three years.

Dr Latrubesse’s awarded contribution “Large rivers, megafans and other Quaternary avulsive fluvial systems: A potential “who’s who” in the geological record.” (Earth-Science Reviews 146 (2015), 1–30) synthesizes more than two decades of research in many of the largest rivers and megafans of Earth and field expeditions to some of the most remote and wildest places of the tropics.

L-R, Dr. Tim Beach (UT), Dr. Sheryl L. Beach (UT), Dr. Richard Marston (KSU; 2016 Mel Marcus Award Winner) and Dr. Edgardo Latrubesse (UT; 2016 G.K. Gilbert Award Winner) at 2016 AAG Meetings, San Francisco, CA


Big Field Works in the Amazon River Basin 2015 Summer

23 03 2016

AMAZON Basin (2015)

The large rivers Group of Prof. Latrubesse conducted fieldwork in the Amazon basin related to ongoing NSF and Science without Borders-CAPEs projects in the summer of 2015. The first field stage involved paleoecological and Quaternary research in Brazilian Southwestern Amazon with colleagues from University of Acre and University of Rochester. The second field phase took place along the Amazon River in between the confluences with Negro and Madeira Rivers. This study is part of the research project of Doctoral Candidate Edward Park and the field work was developed in collaboration with Prof. Maximiliano Bayer (UFG-Brazil) and Prof. Latrubesse’s Brazilian graduate student, Landerlei Almeida (UNESP). The research objectives aims to investigate the impacts of tributaries on suspended sediment distribution patterns along the anabranching main channel of the Amazon River. The Amazon confluences with the Negro River is the largest on Earth in water discharge where distinct water types meet: Solimões-Amazon (muddy white water) and Negro (black water) Rivers. They collected water velocity and acoustic backscatter data using Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP) from critical transects along the Amazon River. Acoustic backscatter data is particularly important because it could be calibrated with suspended and bed loads to calculate the total sediment flux of the river. Along with ADCP data, they also collected water quality data (pH, temperature, turbidity, etc.) at a multiple depth using Hanna Water Quality Meter, bathymetric data using Furuno Multi-beam Echo Sounder and Humminbird Side-scan Sonar, surface sediment on river and floodplains, and lake sediment cores in floodplains. Results on surface water patterns were recently published in the prestigious journal Water Resources Research (Park and Latrubesse, 2015) under the title “Surface water types and sediment distribution patterns at the confluence of mega rivers: The Solimões-Amazon and Negro Rivers”.


The third field phase concentrated in the upper Amazon in Peruvian territory. Prof. Latrubesse conducted geomorphologic studies to reconstruct the paleogeography of the Amazon basin as part of the ongoing NSF-FESD project. Prof. Thomas Dunne (UCSB) and Prof. Rolf Aalto (U. of Exeter) joined this field expedition.

The team also attended the 9th Symposium of River Coastal and Estuarine Morphodynamics (RCEM). Prof. Latrubesse is member of the International Advisory Board of the organization, and he was in charge of a field course on the Amazon titled The Amazon River from late Tertiary to present: paleogeographic reorganization of the basin, Quaternary record and present morphodynamic. Doctoral Candidate Edward Park offered an oral presentation and attended an advance course on the use of Acoustic Doppler Profilers.

Doctoral Candidate Edward Park and Dr. Latrubesse Receives NSF DDRI Award.

22 12 2015

Doctoral candidate Edward Park (Co-PI) and Professor Edgardo Latrubesse (PI) of the Department of Geography and the Environment has been awarded a Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement grant by the National Science Foundation (NSF) for a multidisciplinary project in the Amazon River and floodplains. The title of the project is “Roles of tributaries, floodplains and the anabranching channels on suspended sediment transport patterns in the Amazon River”, which will be supported with the $ 14,687 grant. In this project, the research team will perform field surveys and collect in-situ samples along the Amazon River coupled with remote sensing products and laboratory analysis to characterize the continental-scale sediment transport mechanisms in the Amazon River channel-floodplain systems.

Abstract of the NSF project:

Large rivers play a fundamental role on the planet by transporting eroded materials from continent to the ocean, facilitating the nutrient transfer through biogeochemical cycles, and sustaining complex ecosystems and high biodiversity. However, their mechanisms of sediment transport and floodplain storage are still not well understood. In the case of the Amazon River, the largest river on our planet in water discharge, complexity in sediment transport pattern is affected by the inputs from large tributaries, anabranching channel pattern, and vast floodplains. This doctoral dissertation research will investigate the roles of large tributaries, anabranching channel planform, and vast complex floodplains on sediment transport patterns along the Amazon River. The results of this project will fill knowledge gaps on morphodynamics of large rivers as, traditionally, the assessments of sediment transport patterns have relied substantially on laboratory experiments, field measurements or numerical modeling on small to mid-scale rivers, but rarely on large rivers. Considering that large rivers generally follow the anabranching patterns, methods proposed in this project can be applied to variety of morphodynamics and environmental analyses of large river systems around the world. The results of this project will also be important to wetland ecology, water resources managements, remote sensing, and local policy makers. This research project will strengthen the ties between U.S and Brazilian institutions through collaborations and also incorporate educational outreach to local school organizations to support underrepresented k-12 students in the science.

Assessing sediment transport, mapping sedimentary environments and landforms in large rivers in multi-temporal scale have been areas of focus for river scientists across disciplines, because sediment plays a major role in the hydrophysical and ecological functions, evolution of the complex channel-floodplain system, and biogeochemical cycles in fluvial system. By integrating field hydrogeomorphic data with 16 years (2000-2015) of suspended sediment concentration maps over the entire Amazon River derived from remotely sensed data, this project will address the two core questions: (1) what are the spatiotemporal patterns of sediment transport at the major confluences along the anabranching main channel?; (2) what are the sediment transport, deposition patterns, and sediment budgets in the floodplains? The researchers will perform field surveys and geomorphic mapping, and collect in-situ samples along the Amazon River coupled with remote sensing products and laboratory analysis to characterize the macro-scale sediment transport mechanisms in the Amazon River channel-floodplain systems.


Latrubesse’s group students win awards

3 04 2012

NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program  (GRFP)

Master’s student Katherine Lininger received the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. The program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees in fields within NSF’s mission. 

AAG Specialty Groups Award Field Research Grants to Graduate Students

Master’s student Christine Bonthius received the Field Study Travel Award (Master’s level) from the AAG Latin American Specialty Group, which is intended to support preliminary or reconnaissance fieldwork for research in Latin America. Christine will use the award to support her master’s thesis research on the Madeira River in Brazil.

Graduate Students Win Awards from the Korean-American Association for Geospatial and Environmental Sciences

Edward Park, UT Geography master’s student, won the Pixoneer Scholarship from the Korean-American Association for Geospatial and Environmental Sciences for his paper presentation at the 2012 annual meeting of the Association of American Geographers (AAG). The scholarship was established in 2008 by Pixoneer Geomatics, Inc. to provide financial assistance to graduate students in the research field of Geography, Geospatial Technologies and Environmental Sciences. Pixoneer Geomatics, Inc. is a GIS and remote sensing firm located at Daejon, South Korea, and the scholarship is awarded annually to students through the generous sponsorship of its CEO Jong Sik Yoon. Only two scholarships were awarded at the AAG annual meeting.

Departmental Awards Given to Graduate Students

Vince Clause, who will be a geography graduate student in the fall of 2012, received the Undergraduate Award, which is given to a major in the department who excels through a combination of academic excellence and leadership.

AAG Annual Meeting New York

25 02 2012

Many of the research group’s members are participating in paper sessions, panels, and poster sessions at the annual meeting of the Association of American Geographers (AAG) in New York City.

Topics range from Morphodynamics of an anabranching mega-river to river responses from man made structures to remote sensing.

Links to abstracts from AAG:

Edgardo Latrubesse, Maria S Pereira, Carlos G Ramonel, and Ricardo N Szupiany

Christine Bonthius

Katherine Lininger

Edward Park

Anual Symposium of IGCP 582 – Tropical Rivers

25 02 2012

The IGCP 582-Tropical Rivers comittee is pleased to announce the 2012 Annual Symposium. The symposioum will be held in the city of Iquitos, Peru from August 9 to August 11 of 2012. The meeting will cover hydrophysical processes, impacts, hazards and management of tropical rivers.

Visit website for more details:

Fluvial Morphodynamics and Channels Patterns

25 02 2012

During the Fall meeting 2011 of American Geophysical Union, San Francisco, Dr. Latrubesse in collaboration with Dr. Jorge Abad (University of Pittsburgh and Dr. Stefano Lanzoni (University of Padua-Italy) organized a special session EP08: Fluvial Morphodynamics and Channels Patterns. This session intended to bridge the gap between the different disciplinary and methodological approaches to address the characterization, classification, space-time evolution and geological interpretation of fluvial channel patterns. The session had as invited speakers to Jim Best, Professor, Department of Geology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA;  Paul Carling, Professor, Physical Geography, University of Southampton, UK Maarten Kleinhans, Lecturer, Fac. of Geosciences, Utrecht University the Netherlands;  Huang,  At total 60 papers were presented by researchers from North America, Asia, Europe and South America and Abad, Latrubesse and Lanzoni are acting as Guest Editors of a Special Issue of the prestigious journal Earth Surface Processes and Landforms that will be edited with the contributions of this meeting.

Latrubesse’s Reserach Group hosts Dr. Juan Restrepo, the LLILAS Tinker Visiting Professor

25 02 2012

During the Fall 2011 Latrubesse’s Reserach Group hosted Dr. Juan Restrepo, the LLILAS Tinker Visiting Professor. Prof Restrepo is also a member of  project IGCP 582-Unesco, Tropical rivers: hydro-physical processes hazard, impacts,  and management lead by E. Latrubesse.

During his stay at Austin Prof. Restrepo offered Graduate courses at LLILAS and developed research in collaboration with Prof. Latrubesse analyzing The Role of Andean Rivers on global sediment yield.

Juan Darío Restrepo holds a PhD from the Marine Science Program at the University of South Carolina. In his work since then, he has continued to carry out research on the environmental oceanography of deltas, estuaries, and coastal lagoons waters, especially on the factors controlling water discharge, sediment load, and dissolved load to the ocean from the Pacific and Caribbean rivers of Colombia. His research focuses on improving the understanding of the natural and anthropogenic causes affecting denudation rates and sediment transport to the Caribbean Sea from the largest fluvial system of Colombia, the Magdalena River. Dr. Restrepo has been head of the Magdalena River Science Initiative in Colombia and is currently a full Professor of Geological Sciences at EAFIT University, Colombia. He has been involved as a resource scientist for the sub-programs of LOICZ-IGBP Basins, SAmBas (South American Basins), and CariBas (Caribbean Basins), and also as a member of the Scientific Steering Committees of LOICZ-IGBP and Colciencias (Colombia) in the Marine Science Program. Dr. Restrepo is a coauthor of the Coastal Communities and Systems and Caribbean Assessment chapters of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) and a visiting professor of the European Union in the master’s program Water and Coastal Management. He is also a visiting scientist at the University of Colorado at Boulder (2009–2011), and a consultant of the International Water Project (United Nations University and Global Environmental Fund, GEF).

Information on Prof. Restrepo and lectures offered ad UT can be visualized in the following videos

Geomorphologist help evaluate Amazon Environmental Change

14 09 2011

The Madeira River is the most important tributary of the Amazon in water discharge and sediment load. With water flow twice that of the Mississippi and similar to that of the Yangtze River, the Madeira is the 4rd largest river of the world and because the particular geomorphologic dynamics is one of the rivers that were classified as megarivers (Latrubesse, 2008).

The upper Madeira has created some of the world’s most spectacular and beautiful rapid sequences between Porto Velho and Guajara Mirim. Because of this hydropower potential, the Brazilian government is building two hydroelectric plants to a cost of more than $14 billion and that could generate 6,450 MW. The enterprise is one of the largest in development for the Brazilian government. The environmental damage that may occur is still unknown, although the official governmental agencies claim that it will be insignificant.

With a project funded by National Geographic Society, a team of researchers of the Department of Geography of UT-Austin, Universidade do Amazonas and UNESP-Brazil conducted field-based fluvial research in the area during forty days rescuing paleontological and archeological information, and surveying the river morphodynamics with equipment such as ADCP, echosound and geophysics instruments.

The area is rich in paleontological and archeological remains and it is considered a key area to understand the climatic changes the forest underwent during of the Last Glaciation and the human occupation of the Amazon rainforest.

The UT team was formed by PI-Prof. Latrubesse and Co-PI Dr. Samia Aquino. The local partners were renowned Brazilian scientists such as Prof. J.C. Stevaux (UNESP) and Naziano Filizola (UFAM). Paleoecological and geoarcheological analysis are being developed in INPA, UFMT and UFMG, Brazil. The team also had the participation of several Brazilian graduate students from UNESP including M. Tizuka (advised by E. Latrubesse) and H. Fujita.

tree Fieldwork IMG_3123

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