Large-Scale Levee Breach Experiments With Foreshores


  • M. VAN DEN BERG Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands
  • S.J.H. RIKKERT Deltares, The Netherlands
  • S.G.J. AARNINKHOF Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands
  • R.J. LABEUR Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands



Dike, breach, tidal marsh, erosion, large - scale


Coastal flood risk is expected to increase substantially in the near future. Main drivers are climate induced sea level rise, increased storm surge and land subsidence. Meanwhile, land subsidence compounds to increased extreme water levels as more land is susceptible to flooding. Without coastal defense or adaptation 50% more people are exposed to flooding than present day (Kireczi et al., 2020).

Coastal regions are currently primarily protected by hard (grey) flood defenses such as storm surge barriers, seawall, dikes and dunes. Periodically, strengthening of these grey structures is necessary to comply with current or updated safety standards. For dikes, conventional strengthening methods are crest heightening or (base) widening. However, these methods have structural and financial limits. Instead, more sustainable methods are explored in which nature also plays a larger role. These solutions are known as Nature based Solutions (NbS).

For flood protection, tidal marshes have gained great interest as a Nature based Solution in the past two decades. Tidal marshes provide a lot of ecosystem services (Barbier et al., 2011). One such service is flood protection, attributed to wave attenuation (Vuik et al, 2016). A secondary effect is flood impact reduction (Zhu et al., 2020) due to the high elevation of tidal marshes limiting the inflow to the breach. Secondly, the tidal marsh can act as a sill in front of the breach when water levels drop below the tidal marsh level.

To quantify the effect of tidal marshes on flood impact the breaching process in combination with a tidal marsh (or foreshore in general) needs to be understood. In this study we performed a large-scale physical dike experiment where we breached a dike seven times. Three tests are done without a sediment layer in front of the dike (no foreshore), two with a sandy layer (sandy beach) and two with a clay layer (tidal marsh without vegetation). From the experiments we gain insight into differences in the dike breaching process with and without an erodible sediment layer in front of the dike




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