Evaluating Sediment Stability at Offshore Marine Hydrokinetic Energy Facilities

Monday, 15 December 2014
Craig Alexander Jones, Organization Not Listed, Washington, DC, United States, Jason Magalen, Sea Engineering, Inc., Santa Cruz, CA, United States, Jesse Roberts, Sandia National Laboratories, Albequerque, NM, United States and Grace Chang, University of California Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA, United States
Development of offshore alternative energy production methods through the deployment of Marine Hydrokinetic (MHK) devices (e.g. wave, tidal, and wind generators) in the United States continues at a rapid pace, with significant public and private investment in recent years. The installation of offshore MHK systems includes cabling to the shoreline and some combination of bottom foundation (e.g., piles, gravity bases, suction buckets) or anchored floating structure. Installation of any of this infrastructure at the seabed may affect coastal sediment dynamics. It is, therefore, necessary to evaluate the interrelationships between hydrodynamics and seabed dynamics and the effects of MHK foundations and cables on sediment transport. If sufficient information is known about the physical processes and sediment characteristics of a region, hydrodynamic and sediment transport models may be developed to evaluate near and far-field sediment transport. The ultimate goal of these models and methods is to quantitatively evaluate changes to the baseline seabed stability due to the installation of MHK farms in the water.

The objective of the present study is to evaluate and validate wave, current, and sediment transport models (i.e., a site analysis) that may be used to estimate risk of sediment mobilization and transport. While the methodology and examples have been presented in a draft guidance document (Roberts et al., 2013), the current report presents an overall strategy for model validation, specifically for a case study in the Santa Cruz Bight, Monterey Bay, CA. Innovative techniques to quantify the risk of sediment mobility has been developed to support these investigations. Public domain numerical models are utilized to estimate the near-shore wave climate (SWAN: Simulating Waves Near-shore) and circulation and sediment transport (EFDC: Environmental Fluid Dynamics Code) regimes. The models were validated with field hydrodynamic data. Sediment size information was provided by the USGS usSEABED sediment database program. Near-bottom current- and wave-induced shear stresses were computed and used directly to derive a sediment mobilization risk relationship.