Some steps to shore success, be it mud, sand or gravel

Coastal Processes with Engineering Applications
March 7, 2003

Approximately 20 per cent of the world's population lives within 30km of the coast. Understanding the processes that occur at this interface between land and sea is of critical importance for the integrated management of this variable zone. In some areas, coastlines have beaches composed of loose sediments (mud, sand and gravel) that are constantly being reshaped by the sea. Other essentially hard, rocky coastlines are much more resistant to change.

The aim of this book, written primarily for graduate students and researchers, is to help the reader understand coastal processes and to develop strategies to cope with shoreline erosion. The scope of the book is narrower than the title suggests, as the concern is mainly with soft coasts and the physical processes that occur there. Rocky coasts are ignored and there is only passing reference to shingle beaches.

The four sections start with an overview of engineering projects, sediment characteristics, shorelines and relative sea-level change. There follows an analysis of the hydrodynamics of the coastal zone, such as storm surges, and an examination of coastal responses including sediment transport. The treatment is mathematical, in terms of both hydrodynamics and sediment movement. But regrettably there is no critical evaluation of the performance of the models under a range of conditions. Also missing is a consideration of the role of other processes such as biological systems within the coastal environment. The role of salt marshes in reducing wave energy as a part of integrated coastal zone management and the problem of coastal squeeze are barely mentioned.

The final section is directed towards engineering applications with a consideration of beach fill and soft engineering structures, hard engineering structures, tidal inlets and shoreline management. Missing again is an evaluation of the performance of various engineering structures. Moreover, the analysis lacks a multidisciplinary approach and is primarily at the beach scale rather than that of the sediment cell, with little mention of how management decisions at one location will have reverberations further along the coast. The last chapter on shoreline management gives little insight into the process whereby decisions are taken on how best to manage a particular stretch of coastline and what role engineering solutions should play in that management. This is unfortunate given the uncertainties that surround sea-level rise, and associated wave and storm activity. Nevertheless, this book is useful in providing a mathematical summary of our understanding of hydrodynamic and sediment transport processes in the coastal zone and how they may be affected by engineering applications.

Andrew Watkinson is professor of environmental sciences, Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, University of East Anglia.

Coastal Processes with Engineering Applications

Author - R. G. Dean and R. A. Dalrymple
ISBN - 0 521 49535 0
Publisher - Cambridge University Press
Price - £75.00
Pages - 475

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