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Valleybrook Research Facility

The Valleybrook facility at 122 Pickens Road, Kingsport, TN 37663 (map) includes 144 acres of outdoor space, and a 72,000 square foot research and office complex.

The Department of Geosciences uses the facility to conduct fundamental soil erosion research, which includes gully erosion processes,
head ward erosion, erosion control and prediction, and erosion climate interaction studies. The research facility is also used for a hands-on, project-based education for undergraduate and graduate students (for example, groundwater hydrology field methods, soil sampling and analysis methods) and for successful faculty research initiatives. Dr. Ingrid Luffman, Dr. Arpita Nandi, and Dr. Andrew Joyner are directly involved in soil erosion, hydrologic, and climate interaction research.

  • The Valleybrook outdoor research space includes an eroding hillslope (A), a groundwater well (B) and a weather station (C). Research at the facility is primarily focused in the outdoor research space, and also makes use of the following ETSU Department of
    Geosciences Labs located in our building in Ross Hall (main campus): Valleybrook Weather station (current weather conditions)
  • Soils Laboratory
  • GIS Laboratory

On-Going Research Projects

  • Water induced soil erosion, relating to improper land management, is a serious land degradation problem in Ultisols that results
    in rill and gully erosion. The extent of land degradation depends largely on the severity of erosion, which modifies the soil's
    physical and chemical properties. The research evaluates the changes in physico-chemical and mineralogical properties of
    Ultisols associated with gully erosion.
  • Knowledge of gully formation and propagation in relation to climate is relevant to land management practices. Several research
    projects in Valleybrook involve understanding the role of precipitation and wind pattern in relation to gully erosional processes. Construction of silt fences for the erosion study has presented a unique opportunity to study channel incision following staged
    removal of a sediment-filled dam at the field scale.

  • Future Research: Localized climatology and wind variability are important for a variety of applied research studies. These studies
    can contribute to existing knowledge in agriculture, wind energy, wind hazards, and building standards. Microclimatology will be examined in the surrounding area with Thermocron data loggers that measure temperature and humidity and local wind variability
    will be studied through the construction of two wind towers. The wind towers will initially be placed at the 10-meter
    World Meteorological Organization-recommended height at two different locations to analyze changes over short distances.
    Additional research may examine the wind profile at different heights above ground.