Wave-induced mean flows in vertical rubble mound structures

Iñigo J. Losada*, Robert A. Dalrymple, Miguel A. Losada

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Waves impinging on rubble mound breakwaters and seawalls induce a mean flow within the breakwater, analogous to the so-called undertow within the surf zone. Here, using a plane wave approximation (kh < 1.5), a second-order problem is solved for an idealized breakwater with a rectangular cross-section to show the origin and the nature of the mean flow within the porous structure. The mean flow is expressed in terms of a mean stream function analytically derived, obtained based on the mass flux balance between the incident, reflected and transmitted waves. Furthermore, the evolution of other second-order magnitudes such as mean water level and mass flux is analyzed under different incident wave conditions, structure geometry and porous material characteristics. Results show that the evolution of the different mean quantities is controlled mainly by reflection and consequently depends highly on structure geometry and porous material characteristics. Furthermore, it is shown that the return flow is stronger with increasing mass flux decay. Some qualitative experiments to show the described mechanism are also presented.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)251-281
Number of pages31
JournalCoastal Engineering
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1998


  • Mean flows
  • Mean wave quantities
  • Porous structure
  • Return flow
  • Wave in porous media

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Ocean Engineering


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