Partrac GeoMarine commissioned to conduct a sand tracer study at South Padre Island, Texas.

Partrac GeoMarine have been commissioned by the City of South Padre Island to conduct a sediment tracing study to evaluate the sediment transport pathways of dredged material used to construct a nearshore berm, offshore South Padre Island, Texas. There is significant interest in the use of nearshore placement areas as ‘feeder berms’, which is being driven by the demand for cost-effective beach nourishment under Beneficial Use of Dredged Material (BUDM) schemes. Partrac GeoMarine will assist the City of South Padre Island’s Shoreline Management Department, United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), and the United States Geological Survey (USGS), to understand how the berm is evolving through time under the forcing conditions associated with tidal flows and waves.

To monitor the distribution of the sediments used to construct the berm, Partrac GeoMarine used their proprietary dual signature sediment tracers. These geological analogues are natural sediments tagged with two unique signatures: each tracer grain is fluorescent and magnetic. The applied signatures ensure the tracer grains remain uniquely identifiable within the native sediment load, which enables their movement to be ‘tracked’ or ‘traced’. The study will generate empirical data useful to inform future shoreline management practice. The data will also be applied to calibrate, and validate, a sediment transport model which will be used to predict morphological change, and rates of transport, at the site.

Dr. Patrick Friend, Marketing and Business Development (Americas), commented, “This is an exciting project for Partrac Geomarine, and an excellent application of Partrac’s proprietary dual signature sediment tracing technology/technique to better understand sediment movement from a nearshore berm It is particularly interesting to assist project partners to investigate, in terms of cost and environmental benefit, the utility of nearshore berm placement for beach nourishment purposes – which will potentially be of interest to several groups”.

For further details regarding the project, and/or the tools and techniques to be employed, please contact Dr Patrick Friend ( or Dr Kevin Black (

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