My research broadly focuses on the geological record of sedimentary processes within coastal environments, including:
1) Estuarine river mouth processes, export, and shelf dispersal- with a focus on the Brazos River. This has so far resulted in five published papers, three separate NSF RAPID awards (2015, 2017, 2022), and one funded NSF Grant focusing on suspended sediment as nucleation for carbonate precipitation (Wurgraft et al., 2021). Ongoing research is focused on inter-basin sediment exchange between the Brazos and San Bernard Rivers along the coastal zone at the request of the Texas General Land Office, in collaboration with Civil Engineering at UT Arlington and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Other work includes an NSF Funded RAPID cruise to Prince William Sound and the Copper River (2012-2013) and the dispersal of the Copper River sediment in Prince William Sound, AK (Williams et al., 2018; Kuehl et al., 2017).
2) Estuaries in the Anthropocene- this has included numerous studies in Galveston Bay and other estuaries along the Gulf Coast and South Korea. In the Galveston Bay system, recent work has focused mainly on the role anthropogenically driven subsidence has played in archiving contaminants in the bay (Al MuKaimi et al., 2019A&B; Lopez et al., 2021) and how this influenced sediment and contaminants dispersal resulting from the impact of Hurricane Harvey. This has produced a series of 5 publications in disciplines ranging from mercury dispersal (Dellapenna et al., 2020, and 2022), PAH dispersal (Camargo et al., 2021), the impact on oysters (Du et al., 2021), and hydrodynamic modeling and sedimentary responses (Du et al., 2019). Additional work in Galveston Bay has resulted in quantifying the age and residence times of suspended sediment (Schmidt et al., 2021) and how sediment dynamics is controlling siltation within the navigational channels, which has resulted in a series of U.S. Army Corps of Engineer collaborations and funded research projects. Most recently, we have been funded by NSF to investigate the delivery of forever contaminants (PFAS) in the Florida estuaries due to Hurricane Ian and the sediment flux of microplastics in Matagorda Bay (Matagorda Bay Mitigation Trust).
Internationally, my research program has been investigating the impact of estuarine dams on sediment dispersal in Korea- (William's Ph.D.,2014 and Alarcon MARM thesis). Collaboration with Dr. Guan-hong Lee (Inha Univ.) has led to five published papers. We have worked on the four largest river systems in Korea (Han, Nakdong, Yeongsan, and Geum Rivers). I recently started work on a new grant by KFAS, the Kuwaiti version of NSF, to begin a new collaboration with my former graduate student, Dr. Al Mukaimi, to investigate sediment and mercury dispersal in Kuwait Bay. This will be the first investigation into modern sedimentary processes within Kuwait Bay with the first research trip conducted in Dec. 2022.