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The Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory (CHL) maintains and operates extensive laboratory facilities used for designing and testing coastal structures. Large two-dimensional wave flumes are used to test designs for rubble-mound trunk armor stability and to quantify wave runup, overtopping and transmission. In addition, these wave flumes are used to explore the physics of water wave propagation, wave transformation and wave-structure interaction. These flumes are also used for experimental investigation of sediment transport in wave and steady current environments.


Two glass-walled wave flumes are used to support research and site-specific studies. The flumes are both 63 m (208 ft) long and 1.5 m (5 ft) deep. One flume is 1.5 m (5 ft) wide while the other is 3 m (10 ft) wide. Both two-dimensional glass-walled flumes are equipped with computer-controlled electro-hydraulic wave generators. The wave generators are capable of creating irregular waves with a maximum wave height of 0.46 m (1.5 ft), and wave periods of 0.75-10.0 secs. A steady flow system is also an integral part of the flumes. The facility includes an automated data acquisition and control system, extensive fluid measurement instruments and a laser profiling system.


Measuring breakwater and revetment armor stability, forces on coastal structures, overtopping rates for different structural configurations during storm conditions, and sediment transport in the surf zone would be very difficult and expensive outside a controlled laboratory environment. Structure cross section can be easily optimized in a scale model test. An important tangible benefit of verifying designs in the laboratory is reduction of future maintenance and repair costs over the structure life as well as reduced risk of failure.


Recent supported studies include generalized breakwater deterioration R&D study, Lajes, Azores breakwater stability study, generalized unexploded ordinance mobility R&D study, Kaumalapau breakwater stability study, Kodiak, Alaska, breakwater stability study, reflected wave absorption R&D study, combined wave and current interaction R&D study, and sand dune breaching R&D study.

Point of Contact

Dr. Jeffrey A. Melby, U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, ATTN: CEERD-HN-H, 3909 Halls Ferry Road, Vicksburg, MS 39180-6199; email: Jeffrey.A.Melby@erdc.usace.army.mil. Additional information can be found at the ERDC Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory web site.