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Home » News » Partrac GeoMarine deliver major sediment tracing study for South Padre Island, TX, beach replenishment project

Partrac GeoMarine deliver major sediment tracing study for South Padre Island, TX, beach replenishment project

American beaches are a major part of the economic lifeblood of coastal communities. Creating beaches that are more physically resilient as the climate changes and storm intensities increase is a continuous focus for coastal authorities and managers. Partrac GeoMarine were recently commissioned by the City of South Padre Island, Texas, to undertake sediment tracing to evaluate the transport pathways of beneficially reused dredged material to construct a nearshore berm, offshore of South Padre Island. 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 provided expert support to the City of South Padre Island’s Shoreline Management Department, US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Hydraulics and Hydrology Branch, and the US Geological Survey (USGS), to assess berm evolution, transport pathways, and the spatiotemporal distribution of sediments eroded from the berm by the action of tidal flows and waves.

To monitor emplaced berm sediments, Partrac GeoMarine used their proprietary dual signature sediment tracers. These geological analogues are natural sediments tagged with two unique signatures: each tracer grain is both fluorescent and magnetic. The applied signatures ensure that the tracer grains remain uniquely identifiable within the native sediment load, which enables their movement to be ‘tracked’ or ‘traced’. The study generated empirical data to inform future shoreline management practice and to support numerical modelling efforts used for long term prediction of sediment transport pathways from nearshore berms to the beach. 

Dr. Kevin Black, Technical Director, commented, “This was an exciting project for Partrac Geomarine to be involved with, and an excellent application of Partrac’s proprietary dual signature sediment tracing technology/technique. It was particularly interesting to be part a multi-agency project, working with project partners to investigate, in terms of cost and environmental benefit, the utility of nearshore berm placement for beach nourishment purposes”.

Kristina Boburka, Shoreline Director for the City of South Padre Island, commented “It was an absolute pleasure being able to work with the Partrac Geomarine team on this project. I think it was such a unique and very successful study, especially working with multiple federal and private entities. I am very much looking forward to working with you in the future!”

For further details regarding the project, and/or the tools and techniques employed, please contact Dr Kevin Black kblack@partrac.com

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