Public Lab Research note

CSI: Creek Scene Investigators -public lab tv-

by mathew | December 15, 2014 18:22 15 Dec 18:22 | #11461 | #11461

mathew was awarded the Video Documentation Barnstar by amysoyka for their work in this research note.

Public Lab TV starring @Eymund of the Gowanus Conservancy. Eymund explains how to find the chalk outline of a ghost stream's corpse so he can solve the murder of Freddy the Fish. Filmed in front of a live studio audience at the 2014 Barnraising in Cocodrie, LA.

Hosted by Mathew Lippincott, production by David Simpson.


That is some really useful/interesting stuff your revealing there!

Interestingly enough I know a fair bit about this from personal experience.

I grew up on the coast of Great Britain & where I live this kind of stuff is all really relevant to managing the ground & coastal erosion today.

(The undocumented streams are usually the spots where the cliff weakens and falls into the ocean quickest)

We used to get a lot of flooding down the bottom of one of the hills - turns out its an old stream bed. The Victorians had buried all of the streams to turn my hometown into a seaside resort & build on top of it. I heard that they also planted trees along streams so that the roots would soak up any excess water (might be worth considering for identifying streams). Eventually our local water company dug up one of the local parks and stuck huge shipping container sized tanks in it. The idea being - when it rains - to stop flooding by filling the tanks with water instead. They practically destroyed the local park though...

Would you like me to post more details about it?

Is this a question? Click here to post it to the Questions page.

Reply to this comment...

Here - I started mapping out my old hometown & its waterways:

You should be able to see for yourself - there is a lot of erosion along the eastern cliffs. Where the big patch of green is is where the cliffs have fallen away and trees/foliage has bloomed in the waterlogged cliff-face.

Reply to this comment...

Thanks for the research details Amy !

Very useful.

Learning to "read the landscape" is fascinating.

The clues are all around us.

Here's another 1859 Map of the Cromer stream you just described, from David Rumsey's collection:


download full map here:;sort:Pub_List_No_InitialSort%2CPub_Date%2CPub_List_No%2CSeries_No;lc:RUMSEY~8~1&mi=5&trs=7

A good movie describing global research efforts on urban underground stream restoration is Lost Rivers - you can watch the trailer here:

The full movie describes similar holding tank scenarios in parks for Toronto Canada to help reduce pollution problems.

Tree canopy size is one of the "clues" we use for tracking "join the dots" paths for remapping the old stream beds in Brooklyn. I'm now also using the Aircasting sound recording app ( to record different stream sound levels at sewer plate covers. Will be posting more technical notes on that "ghost whisper" research as well.

Is this a question? Click here to post it to the Questions page.

Reply to this comment...

Thanks for that map. I hadn't seen that one before. I will add it to my collection.

I agree with your sentiments on reading the landscape.

As I said - Cromer, Norfolk, UK is my hometown - I actually now live in Sunshine, Victoria, Australia - which has its own hidden creek issues.

In the UK - for the past few years - there have a number of successful waterway restoration projects. (e.g. London, as the capital, being the most notable:

As a comparison - Australia is a bit behind when it comes to environmental and heritage issues - but attitudes are (thankfully) changing - albeit slowly.

I will definitely be checking that film out!

Had you considered using documentation of the "weeds" in your neighborhood to further map out wetlands? i.e. In addition to mapping where concentrated vegetation is growing directly above a stream - also mapping where hydrophilic plants (water loving "weeds") are growing most abundantly.

Is this a question? Click here to post it to the Questions page.

Reply to this comment...

@eymund, I know this is an older project -- though I really enjoy reading and listening to the stories! Really fascinating. Do you have a step-by-step of how you initially started this project? Would you encourage sorting out areas of interest first through oral histories, old library archives, then compare these to google maps? Would love to hear how you'd encourage someone starting their own localized CSI!

Is this a question? Click here to post it to the Questions page.

Reply to this comment...

Login to comment.