Sorby Environmental Fluid Dynamics Laboratory

Our facilities enable a wide interdisciplinary community to experiment upon a range of simulated natural processes, from flow-sediment transport links in alluvial channels, through the dispersal of sediment in the deep oceans, to particulate transport through pipes and rig vessels. 

Our instrumentation includes a range of Particle Imaging Velocimetry systems, which allow investigation of complex turbulent flow fields. We have a range of Anemometry systems that are ideally suited to collecting high spatial and temporal resolution velocity data for the validation of numerical models.


  • Long hydraulic flume: A 12 m long, 1.0 m wide and 0.75 m deep, tilting recirculating hydraulic flume.
  • Slurry flume: A 8.5 m long, 0.30 m wide and 0.30 m deep, tilting, recirculating hydraulic flume.
  • Lock exchange flume: A 5.0 m long, 0.2 m wide and 0.25 m deep flume that can be used to investigate the dynamics of solute- and particulate-driven density currents in both single component ambient fluids and complex, stratified environments. 
  • Stream table: A 10 m long, 2.5 m wide and 1.0 m deep tank that enables analogue or scaled modelling of landscape evolution, such as rill and headcut development on hillslopes, the effects of base level change on rivers and their deposits, and braided rivers and their deposits.
  • 'T'-shaped density current tank: A deep, tilting, ‘T’-shaped tank with a 1.6 m long, 0.35 m wide and 1.5 m deep feeder channel that enters a large tank (1.6 m x 1.6 m x 1.5 m), allowing simulation of sustained, radially-spreading density-driven flows.
  • Long density current tank: A 6 m long, 0.50 m wide and 1.50 m deep straight-sided density current flume, allowing the study of the longitudinal evolution of density-driven flows. 
  • Jet impingement tank: A 1.0 m high, 1.0 m wide and 1.0 m deep Perspex tank that enables the study of jet impingement and sediment erosion and transport in multiphase flows.
  • 50 mm pipe flow loop: The pipe flow loop is a 6.0 m long, 50 mm diameter flow loop, enabling the detailed analysis of particle-induced turbulence modulation. 
  • Liquifaction column: A 1.0 m high and 0.3 m diameter Perspex column, and associated input system. It is designed for visualising and studying sediment fluidisation and associated processes.
  • On-site workshop: The School of Earth and Environment possesses an excellent in-house Instrument workshop that both services the SEFDL and manufactures small items of experimental equipment.


Velocity and concentration monitoring instruments

  • Two-component particle imaging velocimetry 
  • Three-component particle Imaging velocimetry 
  • Laser doppler anemometry 
  • Phase doppler anemometry 
  • Profiling acoustic doppler velocimeters 
  • Ultrasonic doppler velocity profiler 
  • Ultrasonic high concentration meters 
  • Optical backscatter system

Bathymetry monitoring instruments

  • SeaTek ultrasonic ranging system
  • Sand ripple profiling sonar

Sediment and Pollutant Analysis Laboratory Leeds Grain Size and Characterisation Suite

  • Malvern mastersizer 2000E
  • Malvern nanosight NS300
  • Retsch camsizer XT

Specialist video and image capture facilities

  • FLIR high-speed thermal imaging camera
  • Vision research phantom miro high-speed camera

Partners and sponsors

  • The Sorby Environmental Fluid Dynamics Laboratory has been a NERC-recognised facility since 2007.
  • Our 3D LDA/ 2D PDA and 2C PIV laser equipment is supplied by Dantec dynamics. The Sorby Environmental Fluid Dynamics Laboratory is a Dantec centre of excellence.
  • Sorby Environmental Fluid Dynamics Laboratory staff work closely with Sellafield Ltd. and staff from the School of Chemical and Process Engineering to research the flows of particulate suspensions through pipe systems.
  • A new Sludge Centre of Excellence has been established at the University of Leeds, UK to research the clean up and disposal of radioactive sludge from the UK’s nuclear industry.

Who can use the facility?

We are committed to sharing our facilities and associated expertise with external academic and industrial collaborators. To make an enquiry please contact Dr Gareth Keevil,


School of Earth and Environment

Members of staff

Academic Lead: Professor David Hodgson
Technical Lead: Dr Gareth Keevil