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Investigating shipwreck scour to aid future offshore engineering

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  • Full or part time
    Dr Peter Robins
    Dr M Roberts
    Dr D Huws
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About This PhD Project

Project Description

Offshore engineering projects are rapidly increasing due in-part to the growing marine renewables sector where large arrays of windfarms and other structures are being installed in coastal regions globally. Scour around seabed structures is contingent on several complex interacting factors: structure size and shape, orientation relative to flow, water depth and tidal flow, wave climate, sediment type and geology. Over time, scour can undermine the structures themselves, with feedbacks within arrays and impacts to sediment supply to surrounding coastlines. Simulating these processes is crucial. However, scour modelling at ocean scale (tens-to-hundreds of kilometres) requires improved modelling techniques since typical computational fluid dynamics that resolve scales of metres are impractical due to computational effort.

The Welsh coast contains >1000 shipwrecks, mostly dating back to WWI and WWII. Bangor University have undertaken 400 multibeam bathymetric surveys at 300 Welsh shipwreck sites. This extensive dataset presents a unique opportunity to simulate the morphodynamic impact of seabed structures, where the pattern/rate of disturbance (scour, sediment deposition) is unquantified. Hence, this dataset provides critical ground-truthing for morphodynamic models for application to future coastal engineering.

The primary aim of this PhD is to characterise morphodynamic behaviour in real energetic ocean environments across Wales by developing a morphodynamic model to replicate the scour typologies, hence produce a practical tool for application to future offshore engineering initiatives. The multibeam datasets will be analysed in conjunction with model output and seabed/geological maps. Correctly identifying these mainly unknown wrecks using marine archives will help understand the subsequent morphological change, but is also of historical and cultural importance for Wales. Recent structures monitored regularly over the last 6 years will be selected for further detailed surveys during the PhD, where the student will design and undertake multibeam/sub-bottom surveys and sediment sampling.

A state-of-the-art 3D sediment-tide-wave model will be developed for these key sites, optimising grid configurations and model parameterisations for simulating scour and sediment transport. Simulations will run over decadal timescales using multibeam bathymetry for retro-validation. Outcomes will be appropriate ocean-scale modelling methodologies (and limitations) for simulating scour. Finally, the model will be applied to a site near Anglesey where >20 renewable energy structures will be installed. Simulations will help optimise array design to minimise scour and feedbacks to the surrounding environment.

This PhD will equip the student with exceptional analytical and computational skills, combing high-performance computing with rich datasets and fieldwork experience, with valuable applications to all aspects of oceanography.

For further details and to apply please contact Dr Peter Robins in the School of Ocean Sciences, Bangor University [Email Address Removed]

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