Understanding Sediment Dynamics at a Shipwreck Site Using CFD Modelling

Gary Littler, Mark Coughlan, Jan Majcher, Jennifer Keenahan, Angelo Aloisio (Editor), Said Quqa (Editor), Pier Francesco Giordano (Editor), Luke J. Prendergast (Editor), Jesus Martinez-Frias (Editor)

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Shipwrecks are important cultural heritage sites offshore. In many instances, given their often long-term emplacement on the seafloor, they offer natural laboratories to study complex interactions between human-induced obstacles and seabed dynamics. Such interactions and induced sediment mobility also pose significant threats to offshore engineering infrastructure, such as turbine monopile foundations. Traditional methods can struggle to capture the nuance of these processes, with real-world surveys measuring effects only after installation, and laboratory models suffering from scale-down inaccuracies. Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modelling offers an effective means of investigating the effects of obstacles on seabed dynamics, and by using shipwrecks as proxies for infrastructure, it can utilize long-term datasets to verify its predictions. In this study, high-resolution temporal bathymetric data were used in, and to verify, CFD modelling to investigate the interactions between hydro- and sediment dynamics at a shipwreck site in a tidally dominated wreck site. From this comparison, simulations of bed shear stress and scalar transport correlate well with known areas of erosion and deposition, serving as a basis for future scour prediction studies and creating effective tools in offshore renewable infrastructure planning and de-risking.
Original languageEnglish
Article number369
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 7 Oct 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was funded by Geological Survey Ireland, grant number 2020-SC-001.

Funding Information:
This project is funded by the Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI) Geoscience Research Programme under their 2020 Short Calls. Acquisition of bathymetry data was supported by the Marine Institute of Ireland’s ship-time programme’s APP-CV15021, CV16031: World War I shipwrecks in the Irish Sea: commemoration, visualization and heritage management and APP-CV19027: Geohazard investigation in the Irish Sea using seismic and seabed mapping techniques (GIST). The authors thank the crew of the RV Celtic Voyager on these surveys for their skill and dedication, as well as Rory Quinn, Ruth Plets, Chris McGonigle, Kieran Westley and Fabio Sacchetti for provision of data and support. The authors also express their gratitude to the MI Oceanographic Services Team for their support with ocean current data requests. Jan Majcher is supported by an Ulster University Vice-Chancellor’s Research Studentship. MC is funded under an Irish Research Council Enterprise Partnership Scheme Postdoctoral Fellowship (EPSPD/2020/109) and in part by a research grant from Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) under Grant Number 13/RC/2092, with support from Gavin and Doherty Geosolutions Ltd and the Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI). The authors would like to thank the reviewers for their suggestions and comments, which provided valuable insight and improvement of the paper to the highest standard.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the authors.


  • Article
  • scour
  • morphodynamics
  • hydrodynamics
  • CFD modelling
  • shipwrecks
  • offshore wind


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