Breakwater Breakthrough—Bold New Breakwaters

by William F. Baird, Pres.; William F. Baird & Assoc., Ottawa, Canada,
Kevin Hall, Engr.; William F. Baird & Assoc., Ottawa, Canada,
Virginia Fairweather, Editor; Civil Engineering, 345 E. 47th St., New York, NY 10017,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1987, Vol. 57, Issue 1, Pg. 45-48

Document Type: Feature article


A new rubble-mound breakwater design is a departure from the conventional approach detailed in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Shore Protection Manual. The new concept, called the berm breakwater, is based on the properties and availabilities of local stone. Instead of relying on Hudson's formula for the armor layer design, with the berm approach, armor layer thickness is determined by the available stone size. If smaller stones are used, the layer is thicker. In addition, a natural nesting and consolidation process takes place as the breakwater is exposed to wave action. The method saves money by incorporating indigenous material and construction is much easier because stones may simply be dumped at the site. Precise placement underwater is not necessary. Several successful case histories are described. In all cases, the method costs less than a conventional breakwater, or was built where a conventional breakwater would have required armor units weighing 40 tons or more, creating insurmountable logistic and economic obstacles. One failure is also described. Current international research on the technique is also covered.

Subject Headings: Breakwaters | Rocks | Armor units | Berms | Construction methods | Construction materials | Construction sites | Case studies

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