2002 Denver Annual Meeting (October 27-30, 2002)

Paper No. 12
Presentation Time: 11:00 AM


LUO, Wei1, DUFFIN, Kirk L.2, PERONJA, Edit M.2, STRAVERS, Jay A.3 and HENRY, George M.2, (1)Northern Illinois Univ, Dept Geography, De Kalb, IL 60115-2854, (2)Computer Science, Northern Illinois Univ, DeKalb, IL 60115, (3)Geology, Northern Illinois Univ, DeKalb, IL 66744, luo@geog.niu.edu

Computer simulation is an ideal tool for understanding the complex effects of a variety of physical and geological processes that interact to influence landform evolution over geologic time scale. Yet the simulation models and the visualization and animation of their results usually require specialized software that is not easily accessible to undergraduate education. This paper presents a web-based interactive landform simulation model that can be accessed anytime and anywhere via a standard web browser to improve undergraduate students' learning experience of landform evolution. This model employs a cellular automata (CA) algorithm and is implemented using Java technology, which is designed to run on different computer hardware and operating systems. After randomly dropping a precipiton, or rainfall event, onto a topographic grid, the CA algorithm conducts diffusion, erosion, and deposition as it keeps moving the precipiton from current cell to the lowest of the 8 surrounding cells, until the sediment carrying capacity of the precipiton is exceeded, the precipiton reaches the edge of the grid, or the precipiton lands in a pit. The global pattern of landform occurs after the same local rules are applied to many precipitons (i.e., millions of iterations). Students will be able to interact with the model by selecting and manipulating different parameters (such as precipitation intensity over time, rock erodibility, tectonic movement, etc.) through a Graphical User Interface and observe in animation how different combinations of processes (parameters) influence the landform evolution. This model integrates the latest technology into undergraduate education to improve both teaching and learning. Because of its global potential in web based dissemination, it will have the ability to reach a wide and diverse audience, including underrepresented populations in Science, Mathematics, Engineering, and Technology, non-traditional students, and students with learning disabilities. This project is supported by the CCLI program of NSF.