The Challenge of Wave Scouring Design for the Confederation Bridge


  • Vanessa M Walsh Memorial University of Newfoundland


Engr 8751, Case Study, Civil


The Confederation Bridge in Canada was designed in the 1990’s with the desire of providing a more efficient access between Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick. Spanning over 8 miles of the ice-covered Atlantic Ocean made it one of the longest in the world. However bridges over water often present a special challenge to bridge engineers. Wave scour is the phenomenon associated with coastal structures, and is often difficult to design for due to the unpredictable magnitude of waves and high velocity wave surge flow. Over the years, many bridges have been damaged due to excessive wave scouring. It generally occurs when water passes through obstructions that are part of the structure. In terms of bridges, these can include pile caps, columns, piles, slabs, or any other components of the bridge structure that would lead to scour. This phenomenon has substantial effects and in major cases can lead to a collapse of the structure. Due to the complex environmental conditions in the Atlantic Ocean, the design for wave scouring became a major challenge in this project. This paper will highlight the project description, different techniques to prevent wave scouring, the challenges presented, and the unique design solution of scour protection and monitoring system used for the Confederation Bridge.







Coastal and Ocean Engineering (ENGI.8751)