Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Washboard Dirt Road

Name: Doran
Status: other
Grade: other
Location: SC
Country: USA
Date: Summer 2011

Why does a dirt road develop "wash-boarding?" I live on a dirt road. A road scraper comes through periodically and smoothes the road. Within a week, the road will have a wash-board effect that is very bumpy and violent on a vehicles suspension.

The quick answer is the cause is none of the causes you might think. "Washboarding", as it is called, is really pretty complicated, even though it has been studied seriously. A recent site provides details that are too long for NEWTON response. See:

There are a number of other sites if you Google "washboarding".

Vince Calder

Click here to return to the Engineering Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (, or at Argonne's Educational Programs

Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory