The Effects of Seawalls on the Beach: Part I, An Updated Literature Review


  • Nicholas C. Kraus
  • William G. McDougal


Seawalls, beaches, scour, erosion, shore protection, physical models, literature review


A previous review by the first author of the literature on the effects of seawalls on the beach is extended to cover the period 1988 to the present. The review synthesizes knowledge on beach profile change, longshore sand transport, and scour in the vicinity of seawalls. Remarkable progress has been made since 1988 with new phenomena and observations reported such as on longshore transport processes at walls. Some previous results and conclusions of the 1988 review have been cast into doubt, with example now results being that (1) wave reflection at walls may not be a significant contributor to profile change, and 121 scour at seawalls in the field may be more a product of longshore transport and return of overtopping water than a result of direct cross-shore wave action. The validity or usefulness of small-scale physical model tests is questioned. Conclusions and recommendations for future work are given. This paper is the first of a companion set of papers that investigate the effects of seawalls on the beach. The second paper presents a numerical model of cross-shore transport and beach profile change at seawalls that includes wave reflection, and it compares predictions to measurements made at the SUPERTANK project and to recent results found in the literature on scour at walls.