Document Type



Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Publication Date



Special report in applied marine science and ocean engineering ; no. 455.


For over twenty years, the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the Virginia Port Authority (VPA), representing the Commonwealth Secretary of Transportation, have collaborated on projects key to port development that also preserve the environmental integrity of both Hampton Roads and the Elizabeth River. The USACE and the VPA are working to investigate channel deepening in this region to provide access to a new generation of cargo ships (e.g., Panamax-class). The main goal of this project is to investigate the feasibility for Norfolk Harbor channel deepening in the lower James and Elizabeth Rivers and assess the environmental impact of the shipping channels dredging in Atlantic Ocean Channel, Thimble Shoal Channel, Elizabeth River channel, and the Southern Branch. Specifically, we support the request of “Planning and Engineering Services for Norfolk Harbor” in three areas: (1) using high-resolution hydrodynamic modeling to evaluate the change of hydrodynamics resulting from Channel Deepening (2) assessment of water quality modeling using the Hydrodynamic Eutrophication Model (HEM3D) (3) conducting the statistical measure of impacts resulting from Channel Deepening. Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) team has applied a3D unstructured-grid hydrodynamic model (SCHISM, Zhang et al., 2016) in the study of impact of channel dredging on hydrodynamics in the project area. The model was adopted due to its flexible gridding systems used: hybrid triangular-quadrangular unstructured grids in the horizontal and flexible vertical coordinate system in the vertical (Zhang et al. 2015). High resolution (up to 15m) is used to faithfully resolve the channels and other important features such as tunnel islands, etc.



sediment transport, water quality