Large-Scale Experimental Model Of Edge Treatments For Constructed Salt Marshes


  • MITCHEL PROVAN National Research Council Canada, Canada
  • ENDA MURPHY National Research Council Canada, Canada
  • AMANJ RAHMAN National Research Council Canada, Canada
  • ERIC MORRIS Kerr Wood Leidal Consulting Engineers, Canada
  • ALLISON MATFIN Kerr Wood Leidal Consulting Engineers, Canada



natured based solutions, living dyke, physical model, sediment transport


Large stretches of Canada’s coastlines are lined with legacy dykes (or levees) to provide protection against coastal flooding and erosion. However, future sea-level rise presents a risk to these structures, which may result in the dykes being under designed when exposed to future water levels and wave conditions. Under certain conditions, these dykes can be augmented with a coastal saltmarsh to create a living dyke, which allows for the existing dyke to be more resilient against sea level rise without the need to retrofit the dyke with a higher crest elevation or larger armour stone. The coastal saltmarsh is able to attenuate storm waves, resulting in lower wave energy at the dyke, while also attracting and retaining sediment to combat coastal erosion.

The Living Dyke project in Boundary Bay, Canada is a pilot project being used to test the living dyke concept by placing sediment and planting salt marsh vegetation in the foreshore combined with upgrades to the existing dyke. Kerr Wood Leidal Associates Ltd. prepared a preliminary design which incorporated four different edge treatment features that are to be installed at the offshore edge of a newly constructed salt marsh platform in order to attenuate wave energy and retain the placed sediment before the planted vegetation can be established. The proposed edge treatment features included a natural sand edge, a rounded gravel berm, an oyster-shell filled bag berm, and a brushwood dam. Large scale (full scale for all edge treatment feature tests except for the brushwood dam which was conducted at half-scale) physical model experiments were carried out by the National Research Council of Canada’s Ocean, Coastal and River Engineering Research Centre in their Large Wave-Current Flume to investigate the performance, including stability of the edge treatment features, wave attenuation ability, and stability of the salt marsh platform, of these edge treatment features under varying water level and wave conditions that are present at Boundary Bay.




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