The USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory (CVO) constructed the Sediment Lab (SedLab) during the 1980s as an aid to study the sediment released during eruptions of Mount St. Helens. Now, decades after those eruptions, sediment within the rivers leading from the volcano remains unsettled and continues to increase flood potential and prohibit fish return to some river environments.
Today, the CVO SedLab serves the sediment analysis needs of USGS scientists and other partners in the Pacific Northwest, Hawai‘i, Alaska, and Guam. Staff conduct concentration and particle size distribution analyses on a wide variety of lahar and tephra samples. The facilities are capable of handling samples from large bedload gravels to small amounts of suspended sediment.
The CVO SedLab works closely with scientist in providing authentic and reliable data to support their research. In addition to our analytical facilities, SedLab operates active research and development projects in particle size instrumentation design. Our focus is on using optical imaging to measure the particle size distribution and particle shape of very light suspended sediment samples.