This study aims to investigate the free-surface flow involved in a wave impact and the vibrational characteristics of an idealized seawall to achieve an improved insight in the design of seawalls and coastal infrastructures subjected to moderate and storm wave conditions. This type of structure can be subjected to frequently occurring as well as high impact wave loadings. In addition to the structural concerns, it is also important to evaluate the importance of the coupling between both fluid and structure motion.

In the various steps to design proper wall deflector (wave guide) and to predict pressures and forces following a wave impact, we first present a comparison between numerical results from a CFD model and experimental recordings conducted in a large scale flume in the new Quebec Coastal Physics Laboratory, Canada. A CFD model performance is tested to investigate the more fundamental mechanisms of the underlying processes and to assess real conditions around seawalls to facilitate design process. The preliminary results are based on the assumption of treating the fluid-structure interaction physics as decoupled processes and the wall as a rigid plate. Modal analysis performed on the structure indicates that this approach is adequate, since loadings are of short duration (less than 1 ms) compared to the wall natural frequencies. A maximum local wall pressure of 3.5 MPa has been obtained from an air-pocket impact which generates an instantaneous horizontal force of 4.3×106 N/m.

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