Laboratory quantification of the relative contribution of staghorn coral skeletons to the total wave-energy dissipation provided by an artificial coral reef

Mohammad Ghiasian, Jane Carrick, Claire Bisson, Brian K. Haus, Andrew C. Baker, Diego Lirman, Landolf Rhode-Barbarigos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Coral reefs function as submerged breakwaters providing wave mitigation and flood-reduction benefits for coastal communities. Although the wave-reducing capacity of reefs has been associated with wave breaking and friction, studies quantifying the relative contribution by corals are lacking. To fill this gap, a series of experiments was conducted on a trapezoidal artificial reef model with and without fragments of staghorn coral skeletons attached. The experiments were performed at the University of Miami’s Surge-Structure-Atmosphere-Interaction (SUSTAIN) Facility, a large-scale wind/wave tank, where the influence of coral skeletons on wave reduction under different wave and depth conditions was quantified through water level and wave measurements before and after the reef model. Coral skeletons reduce wave transmission and increase wave-energy dissipation, with the amount depending on the hydrodynamic conditions and relative geometrical characteristics of the reef. The trapezoidal artificial coral reef model was found to reduce up to 98% of the wave energy with the coral contribution estimated to be up to 56% of the total wave-energy dissipation. Depending on the conditions, coral skeletons can thus enhance significantly, through friction, the wave-reducing capability of a reef.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1007
JournalJournal of Marine Science and Engineering
Volume9
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2021

Keywords

  • Breakwater
  • Coral
  • Dissipation
  • Energy
  • Friction
  • Reef
  • Shoreline protection
  • Wave

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Ocean Engineering

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