Pressure-induced forces and shear stresses on rubble mound breakwater armour layers in regular waves

Bjarne Jensen, Erik Damgaard Christensen, B. Mutlu Sumer

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


This paper presents the results from an experimental investigation of the pressure-induced forces in the core material below the main armour layer and shear stresses on the armour layer for a porous breakwater structure. Two parallel experiments were performed which both involved pore pressure measurements in the core material: (1) core material with an idealized armour layer made out of spherical objects that also allowed for detailed velocity measurements between and above the armour, and (2) core material with real rock armour stones. The same core material was applied through the entire structure i.e. no additional filter layers were applied. For both experiments, high-speed video recordings were synchronised with the pressure measurements for a detailed investigation of the coupling between the run-up and run-down flow processes and the measured pressure variations. Outward directed pressure gradients were found which exerted a lift force up to ≈60% of the submerged weight of the core material. These maximum outward directed pressure gradients were linked to the maximum run-down event and were in general situated at, or slightly below, the maximum run-down level. Detailed velocity and turbulence measurements showed that the large outward directed pressure gradients in general coincide, both in time and space, with the maximum bed-shear stresses on the armour layer based on the Reynolds-stresses. The bed-shear stresses were found to result in a Shields parameter in the same order of magnitude as the critical value for movement of the armour stones.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCoastal Engineering
Pages (from-to)60-75
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Rubble mound breakwater
  • Porous flow
  • Pressure-induced forces
  • Bed-shear stresses
  • Model scale experiments

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