Gravel Road

Equipment and Tools

Research equipment and tools utilized by the Center.


Sediment Quantification (rainmaker)

Rainfall Simulator and sample point.Unpaved roads can be a major source of sediment pollution in forested and rural watersheds. The PSU Center for Dirt and Gravel Road Studies (Center) has developed a rainfall simulation device designed specifically for use on unpaved roads. The rainfall simulator delivers a controlled and repeatable rainfall event to a 100’ by 20’ length of road. The simulator generates a 0.6” rainfall event in 30 minutes, equivalent to a 1.9-month return interval for most of Pennsylvania. The rainfall simulator allows the comparison of different road surfaces or “before and after” comparisons of the same road segment using the same rainfall event.

The rainfall simulator has been used by the Center in several completed and planned research projects in Pennsylvania. The Center has also collaborated with entities in Maryland and Ohio to quantify sediment production there using the rainfall simulator.


Dust Quantification

The Center’s dust measurement vehicle in action.The generation, transport, and fate of airborne particulates generated from unpaved road is an area of growing interest and concern across the US and world.  The loss of road fines to dust can have negative impacts to road longevity, the surrounding environment, and human health. Several entities have been developing mobile sampling units to quantify dust generation from unpaved roads and the fundamentals of the technology were recently adopted by the EPA under Other Test Method – 34.

The PSU Center for Dirt and Gravel Road Studies (Center) has recently developed a realtime dust measurement vehicle for unpaved roads.  The methods and procedures used were based largely on previous work done at the Desert Research Institute and the US Geological Survey.  The Center is planning to utilize the dust measurement vehicle in several funded and proposed research projects including: comparison of dust generation from various aggregate types; effect of road grading on dust production, and quantification of the potential environmental impacts of dust production.

Additonal Resources

  • Real-time Dust Monitoring (615 KB): Informational bulletin about dust monitoring with a vehicle-mounted monitoring system. (2/16)