Spatial Synthesis
Volume II, Book 2:
Making It Clear:  The Importance of Transparency

Sandra Lach Arlinghaus


Semi-opaque layers of flood waters at different contours allow the reader to look through and see previous flood stages as well as what is already present in Google Earth and in the stock of 3D buildings.  Diving through the layers permits one to see which basements lie below the flood waters at various levels.

The link in this section goes to files presented to municipal authorities (at the 3D Laboratory of the Duderstadt Center at The University of Michigan) to visualize, in Google Earth, possible outcomes from displacement of water due to the building of new structures in the Allen Creek floodplain.  The image above shows an overlay in which different levels of water are visible.  The image below shows an animation of successive fillings of the floodplain to different contour levels, from 770 to 900 feet.  Both were used in conjunction with a discussion of Archimedes Principle of Displacement ("bathtub principle") to illustrate the difficulty of building new structures in an existing floodplain.  New structures will cause unintended consequences when the "bathtub" is filled; the filling water that has been displaced will overflow the "tub" perimeter.

In Solstice:  An Electronic Journal of Geography and Mathematics:


Software used in analysis:

Author affiliation:

Arlinghaus, Sandra Lach.  Adjunct Professor of Mathematical Geography and Population-Environment Dynamics, School of Natural Resources and Environment, The University of Michigan.  Executive Committee Member (Secretary) Community Systems Foundation,,

Published by:
Institute of Mathematical Geography
October, 2008.
Copyright by Sandra Arlinghaus, all rights reserved.