The coasts of the Gulf of Mexico have been ravaged for ages by hurricanes. In Texas, Galveston Island acts as a natural barrier against these brute forces of nature, providing cover for the Galveston Bay area, home to the largest petrochemical complex of the USA. During hurricane Ike in 2008, it became evident that current coping mechanisms against hurricanes and the storm surge that regularly accompanies them, are insufficient.
Dr. Bill Merrell, a local professor at Texas A&M Galveston University, has been pushing to create a “Coastal Spine”, a combination of mitigations meant to protect both the Galveston Bay area and the barrier island itself. The US Army Corps of Engineers (the equivalent of Rijkswaterstaat in the USA) has proposed a concept plan to fulfill this need. Part of this proposal is a dune system ranging from the City of Galveston down to the Southwest end of the island. At this moment, the plan is in a time-consuming preliminary design stage, open for response by the public.
And that is where we come in! Amongst multiple projects supported by DIMI to collaborate on developing flood risk reduction structures and strategies for the Houston Galveston Bay region in the past 5 years, there has been an exchange between the faculty of Civil Engineering at TU Delft and Texas A&M Galveston University, the faculty of Marine and Coastal Environmental Science, regarding the Coastal Spine project. We are the current exchange team, consisting of six students from multiple disciplines within the Civil Engineering expertise, namely: Coastal Engineering, Hydraulic structures, River Engineering, Construction Management & Engineering and Water Management.
In a multidisciplinary fashion we are conducting a thorough analysis of the proposed alternatives for the flood defense barrier at the Gulf side of the Galveston Island coastline. This analysis includes the alternative proposed by the USACE and alternatives proposed by master graduates from TU Delft who were involved in recent years. These alternatives are tested upon sociopolitical, environmental and technical aspects in an unbiased way, in order to advise the USACE in their decision making process regarding a flood defense system for the Galveston Island and Bay area.
The members of the research group, from left to right: Lise Andringa, Timo Eijkelkamp, David Schouten, Oscar Ophof, Thomas Grolleman, Xavier Szadkowski.