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R&D projects
COPTER: Coastal OPTimization to combat ERosion

Coastal OPTimization to combat ERosion

Dates: 2005-2009
Partners: Institut des Sciences de la Terre et de l'Environnement, Montpellier (ISTEEM - UMR 5573 CNRS) / Institut de Mathématiques et de Modélisation, Montpellier (I3M - UMR 5149 CNRS) / BRL Ingénierie / LIRIGM

Financed by: ANR

-To develop a digital model by optimizing the shape of coastal management and protection works on sandy coasts.
-To approve the tool and one case consisting of sizing calculations using reduced-scale 2D (moving-bottomed wave flume) and 3D models (moving-bottomed wave pool).
-To use the tool to design protection for a severely eroded sandy beach on the north part of the Sète barrier beach (Languedoc-Roussillon, France) by use of an innovative swell protection system made of geosynthetic tubing (L = 2.4 km;  H = 3m; W = 12 m; distance from the coast: 350 m; depth of water = 4.5m).
The project addresses coastal erosion control and more generally the management of sandy coastlines by optimizing their shape. Optimizing the shape means using all possible digital optimization methods that allow the shape of a piece of land or other area (a length of the coastline, a set of dikes, sand barriers…) subject to the effects of one or several physical processes (swell, currents,…) to be gradually modified according to judiciously selected optimizing criteria (minimize swell energy, minimize the elevation of the open surface…).

To date, we haven't heard of any other national or international, academic or other initiative intending to optimize the shape of the coastline. Coastal engineering has unfortunately not yet been able to benefit from technological transfer, unlike other engineering sciences, where shape optimizing has led to some excellent results.

The applied, academic project was developed as follows:

-A first academic component on the development of shape optimizing methods (research and applied mathematics) combined with coastal hydrodynamics process modelling tools (research and geoscience/oceanography).
-Then a second coastal engineering component leading to the development of a tool for the design of innovative beach protection devices.
-A third component consists of applying all this to several cases of sandy coasts affected due to erosion, in particular to the Sète barrier beach. The optimizing is done with an entirely new swell-protection structure made of geosynthetic tubing. The whole approach and the optimized solution calculations are done thanks to reduced-scale models in 2D in moving-bottomed wave flumes. Next the morphodynamic response of the coastline is verified in 3D in a moving-bottomed wave pool.
-Some of the key output of the COPTER project includes: a mathematics thesis and refined, original sizing calculations for the protection system used on the north part of the barrier beach between Sète and Marseillan, i.e. a geosynthetic tube swell-protection device that is 2.4 km long. It is the first of its kind in France.
Study area: Languedoc-Roussillon coastline / Sandy beaches on the northern part of the Sète barrier beach.