Nature-Based Coastal Protection by Large Woody Debris as Compared to Seawalls : A Physical Model Study of Beach Morphology and Wave Reflection
Anchored Large Woody Debris (LWD) is increasingly being used as one of several nature-based coastal protection strategies along the north-western coasts of Canada and the US. As an alternative to conventional hard armoring (e.g., seawalls), its usage is widely considered to be less harmful to the coastal ecosystem while maintaining the ability to protect the beaches against wave attack and erosion. The effects of seawalls on beaches have been extensively studied; however, the performance and efficacy of LWD and its potential as a suitable alternative to seawalls (and other shoreline protection structures) are still understudied in current research. This paper presents and compares the effects of a conventional vertical seawall with two different LWD structures on beach morphology and wave reflection through large-scale physical modeling in a wave flume at a 1:5 scale. An assessment of techniques used to measure beach morphology and an assessment of model effects were included in the study. It was found that the wave reflection could be reduced by using a single log instead of a wall structure, while changes in the beach morphology response largely depended on the type of the LWD structure. A stacked log wall showed near-identical behavior as a conventional seawall. Visible model effects from the experiments, including the effect of the flume sidewalls on the beach morphology, were quantified and analyzed to inform future research.