Last December, Dr. Manny Gabet made national news with a study published in the journal Geomorphology and presented at the fall 2013 American Geophysical Union (AGU) meeting in San Francisco, describing his computer model for the development of Mima mounds, a long-mysterious geomorphic feature.
“Mima mounds are small densely packed hills found on all continents except Antarctica. The most famous and well-studied ones are along the west coast of North America. Over the centuries, numerous hypotheses have been advanced to explain how they form, including periglacial processes, artesian pressure, gas venting and, of course, aliens. One hypothesis, proposed in the 1950s, was that gophers built them in response to seasonally flooded soils. To test this idea, I created a cellular automaton model that simulates the digging behavior of gophers based on the displacement of metal tracers deposited in a Mima mound field. Although there is no explicit mound-building rule in the model, Mima mounds spontaneously begin to form. In addition, the spatial distribution of the mounds in the simulated landscape matches the distribution observed in real mound fields. “
Dr. Gabet was interviewed by multiple news organizations, including the BBC, the Huffington Post, and The Economist.