Date of Award

Fall 2011

Project Type


Program or Major

Mechanical Engineering

Degree Name

Master of Science

First Advisor

Barry Fussell


This thesis covers the design and development of a Smart Rock sensor package to be used in U.S. Geological Survey research of debris flow phenomena. This instrumented Rock, containing inertial sensors and pressure sensors, provides information about the movement of the flow as well as the pressures seen within the flow. The goal of the sensor package is to use this information to track the position of a particle in the flow with an accuracy of 1 m over the course of 10 s..

It is found that using an ad hoc filtering method provides the required level of accuracy. Any known positions are incorporated into the filter. Large scale motions over tens of meters can be distinguished as well as small scale motions on the order of centimeters. Thus, the data gathered by the Smart Rock can be used to help verify and refine debris flow models.