Professor Greg Sambrook Smith PhD

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
Professor of Fluvial Sedimentology
Head of Research

Contact details

Address
School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
University of Birmingham
Edgbaston
Birmingham
B15 2TT
UK

Professor Sambrook Smith investigates the linkages between river processes and sedimentology at scales ranging from individual pores within a river bed up to km-long bars in large rivers.

The World’s largest rivers suffer from a paucity of knowledge about how they currently function, how they have evolved through time and how they may respond to future environmental changes. This lack of knowledge matters to the millions of people who live and work on their floodplains but also to society more widely as large river deposits from some of the World’s most important water aquifers, hydrocarbon reservoirs and potential sites for CO2 storage.

As a process-based fluvial sedimentologist, Professor Sambrook Smith has developed river science by blending, field, experimental and numerical methods to generate a new perspective which bridges temporal and spatial scales to provide a holistic framework for understanding both modern and ancient systems. His research generates new, generic and quantitative understanding of how rivers function across these scales. This is facilitated by development of new techniques such as endoscopic particle imaging velocimetry for use in porous media or application of geophysical techniques for fluvial context.

Qualifications

BSc (University of Leeds)

PhD (University of Sheffield)

Biography

Professor Sambrook Smith was awarded his BSc in Geography from the University of Leeds in 1991 and completed his PhD at the University of Sheffield in 1994 under the supervision of Rob Ferguson. He was appointed as a Lecturer in Physical Geography at the University of Leeds for the academic year 1994/95. He then spent six years as a Lecturer in the School of Earth Sciences at Liverpool John Moores University before joining the University of Birmingham in 2001.

Teaching

Modules taught;

Level 1: Global Environmental Issues

Level 2: Geomorphological Processes

Level 3: River Processes and Deposits

Masters: Fluvial Geomorphology

Postgraduate supervision

Greg Sambrook Smith investigates the links between river processes and sedimentology at scales ranging from individual pores within a river bed up to km-long bars in some of the world’s largest rivers. His research aims to generate new generic and quantitative understanding of how rivers function across these scales. His work is facilitated by the development of new techniques such as endoscopic particle imaging velocimetry, and includes:

Sedimentology of braided rivers (South Saskatchewan project)
Processes and deposits of the world's biggest rivers
Interactions between permeable beds and open channel flows
Development of novel experimental and geophysical methods
Morphodynamics and sedimentology of the tidally-influenced fluvial zone
Channel-floodplain interactions and basin-scale alluvial architecture
Microplastics in freshwater systems

He welcomes enquiries from prospective students in these areas.

Research

Professor Sambrook Smith investigates the linkages between river processes and sedimentology at scales ranging from individual pores within a river bed up to km-long bars in large rivers.

The World’s largest rivers suffer from a paucity of knowledge about how they currently function, how they have evolved through time and how they may respond to future environmental changes. This lack of knowledge matters to the millions of people who live and work on their floodplains but also to society more widely as large river deposits from some of the World’s most important water aquifers and the movement of sediment through rivers is key for replenishing downstream deltas to offset sea level rise.  Rivers may also become sinks for emerging pollutants such as microplastics, about which currently very little is known.

As a process-based fluvial sedimentologist, Professor Sambrook Smith has developed river science by blending, field, experimental and numerical methods to generate a new perspective which bridges temporal and spatial scales to provide a holistic framework for understanding both modern and ancient systems. His research generates new, generic and quantitative understanding of how rivers function across these scales. This is facilitated by development of new techniques such as endoscopic particle imaging velocimetry for use in porous media or application of geophysical techniques for fluvial context.

Other activities

  • Head of Research, GEES
  • Chair of the University NERC strategy Group
  • Member of NERC peer review college and technologies panel
  • External examiner at University of Liverpool

Publications

Recent publications

Article

Nel, H, Lynch, I, Krause, S & Sambrook-Smith, G 2019, 'Simple yet effective modifications to the operation of the Sediment Isolation Microplastic unit to avoid polyvinyl chloride (PVC) contamination', MethodsX, vol. 6, pp. 2656-2661. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mex.2019.11.007

Sambrook-Smith, G 2019, 'Quantification of bedform dynamics and bedload sediment flux in sandy braided rivers from airborne and satellite imagery', Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, vol. 44, pp. 953-972. https://doi.org/10.1002/esp.4558

Tibbetts, J, Krause, S, Lynch, I & Sambrook-Smith, G 2018, 'Abundance, distribution, and drivers of microplastic contamination in urban river environments', Water, vol. 10, no. 11, 1597. https://doi.org/10.3390/w10111597

Sambrook-Smith, G & Dixon, S 2018, 'The sedimentology of river confluences', Sedimentology. https://doi.org/10.1111/sed.12504

Nicholas, AP, Aalto, RE, Sambrook-Smith, G & Schwendel, AC 2018, 'Hydrodynamic controls on alluvial ridge construction and avulsion likelihood in meandering river floodplains', Geology, vol. 46, no. 7, pp. 639-642. https://doi.org/10.1130/G40104.1

Dixon, S, Sambrook-Smith, G, Best, JL, Nicholas, A, Bull, J, Vardy, ME, Sarker, MH & Goodbred, S 2018, 'The planform mobility of river channel confluences: Insights from analysis of remotely sensed imagery', Earth Science Reviews, vol. 176, pp. 1-18. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.earscirev.2017.09.009

Zuk, T, Sydor, P & Sambrook-Smith, G 2017, 'Late-Holocene wind-field evolution at the southern Baltic coast as revealed by GPR data from the Mrzeżyno dunefield, NW Poland', Boreas, vol. 46, no. 3, pp. 470-485. https://doi.org/10.1111/bor.12232

Sinha, S, Hardy, RJ, Blois, G, Best, JL & Sambrook-Smith, G 2017, 'A numerical investigation into the importance of bed permeability on determining flow structures over river dunes', Water Resources Research. https://doi.org/10.1002/2016WR019662

Sambrook-Smith, G, Best, JL, Leroy, JZ & Orfeo, O 2016, 'The alluvial architecture of a suspended sediment dominated meandering river: the Río Bermejo, Argentina', Sedimentology, vol. 63, no. 5, pp. 1187–1208. https://doi.org/10.1111/sed.12256

Nicholas, A, Sambrook-Smith, G & Reesink, A 2015, 'The role of discharge variability in determining alluvial stratigraphy', Geology, vol. 44, no. 1, pp. 3-6. https://doi.org/10.1130/G37215.1

Blois, G, Best, JL, Sambrook-Smith, G & Hardy, RJ 2014, 'Effect of bed permeability and hyporheic flow on turbulent flow over bed forms', Geophysical Research Letters, vol. 41, no. 18, pp. 6435-6442. https://doi.org/10.1002/2014GL060906

Sambrook-Smith, G, Best, JL, Orfeo, O, Vardy, ME & Zinger, JA 2013, 'Decimeter-scale in situ mapping of modern cross-bedded dune deposits using parametric echo sounding: A new method for linking river processes and their deposits', Geophysical Research Letters, vol. 40, no. 15, pp. 3883-3887. https://doi.org/10.1002/grl.50703

Parker, NO, Sambrook-Smith, G, Ashworth, PJ, Best, JL, Lane, SN, Lunt, IA, Simpson, CJ & Thomas, RE 2012, 'Quantification of the relation between surface morphodynamics and subsurface sedimentological product in sandy braided rivers: Braided river morphodynamics and associated sedimentology', Sedimentology, vol. 60, no. 3, pp. 820-839. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-3091.2012.01364.x

Blois, G, Sambrook-Smith, G, Best, GL, Hardy, RJ & Lead, J 2012, 'Quantifying the dynamics of flow within a permeable bed using time-resolved endoscopic particle imaging velocimetry (EPIV)', Experiments in Fluids, vol. 53, no. 1, pp. 51-76. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00348-011-1198-8

Ashworth, PJ, Sambrook-Smith, G, Best, JL, Bridge, JS, Lane, SN, Lunt, IA, Reesink, A, Simpson, CJ & Thomas, R 2011, 'Evolution and sedimentology of a channel fill in the sandy braided South Saskatchewan River and its comparison to the deposits of an adjacent compound bar', Sedimentology, vol. 588, no. 7, pp. 1860-1883. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-3091.2011.01242.x

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