Palm Beach Artificial Reef

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Palm Beach Artificial Reef

Historically, Palm Beach is one of the Gold Coast's most vulnerable beaches to the threat of coastal erosion. Storms and swell events can cause significant erosion along Palm Beach and can result in damage to the beach and public infrastructure. As part of the City's Ocean Beaches Strategy 2013 -2023, the City is delivering the Palm Beach Artificial Reef to enhance coastal protection of Palm Beach and ensure everyone can enjoy a beach experience.

The City has worked with a team of world-class experts in coastal engineering to develop the best possible outcome for Palm Beach.  The City's solution is a 2-phase project incorporating sand nourishment (phase 1) and construction of an artificial reef (phase 2).

How it works

A lot of investigation and effort has gone into the design of the artificial reef including coastal data capture, computer modelling and wave tank testing to see how the beach behaves not just above the water line, but underneath the water too!

Here on the Gold Coast sand naturally moves north along the coast as a result of the predominant south easterly wave direction. This innovative underwater structure will influence the surrounding waves and currents to temporarily slow the northerly transport of sand around the reef. This will hold the additional sand delivered through the previous beach nourishment works for longer, and promote a long term increase in sand along vulnerable sections of Palm Beach.

Phase 1: Sand Nourishment 

Phase 1 was completed in September 2017 and saw the successful nourishment of Palm Beach with more than 470,000m3 of clean sand.

This sand is being monitored through coastal survey and aerial photography, and has provided an effective buffer to coastal erosion since its placement.

Site extent view of Palm Beach Artificial Reef.‚Äč

What it looks like

The reef will be constructed of large rock boulders quarried in South East Queensland and transported to site using barges. The boulders range from smaller ‘core’ rock to as large as 8 tonnes each, and will be strategically and carefully placed to form a structure 160 metres long and 80 metres wide. Once constructed, the reef will be 1.5 metres below the average water level at its highest point.

Phase 2: Artificial Reef

The artificial reef will be located approximately 270 metres offshore from Nineteenth Avenue, between the beach and the existing natural reef.

Significant investigation has gone into designing the artificial reef, including computer modelling, wave tank testing and real-life coastal data capture and analysis.

Section view of Palm Beach Artificial Reef showing rock sizes.

The reef will work by influencing the surrounding waves and currents to help prolong the benefit provided by the sand delivered through phase 1 and promote a long-term increase in sand along vulnerable sections of Palm Beach.  The increase in sand will generally be located just offshore, not always distinctly visible to beach users, but in a position to act as a protective buffer against future erosion.

While the primary purpose of the artificial reef is coastal protection, surfing outcomes have been considered during the design phase, and under certain swell conditions there is predicted to be waves breaking on the reef suitable for intermediate surfers.

And for all the surfers out there, surf amenity has been considered in the design process – ensuring that the vision of the City’s Surf Management Plan is pursued.

Artificial Reef Construction (April to October 2019)

Construction of the artificial reef is scheduled between April and October 2019, weather permitting.  To ensure the safety of all beach and ocean users, a temporary exclusion zone will be established offshore around the artificial reef construction site. This will prohibit all watercraft, swimmers and boardriders from entering the reef construction site. 

Check out the video below for more facts about the Palm Beach Shoreline Project.

More information

For further information about the Palm Beach Artificial Reef view the fact sheet and frequently asked questions documents below.

If you have any further queries about the project, please email or call 1300 GOLDCOAST (1300 465 326).

SOURCE: City of Gold Coast.

by Celine Battendier

Palm Beach Artificial Reef March 2019
First National Palm Beach
Cnr of 6th Ave & Cypress Terrace, Palm Beach, QLD 4221

Ph: 07 5559 9600 We Put You First