Document Type



Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Publication Date



Special report in applied marine science and ocean engineering ; no. 454.


To investigate the feasibility for Norfolk Harbor channel deepening in the lower James and Elizabeth Rivers, one of the key services of the project is to evaluate the impacts of deepening the Atlantic Ocean Channel to 55 feet (from 50 feet), Thimble Shoal Channel to 55 feet (from 50 feet), Elizabeth River (north of Lambert Point) to 50 feet (from 45 feet) and the Southern Branch (north of the I64 Bridge) to 50/45/45 feet. In general, the shipping channel dredging will result in enhancement of estuarine gravitational circulation, accentuate the tidal and wind wave influence upstream, and affect the ecosystem dynamics in the lower Bay, particularly, dissolved oxygen (DO) in the James River and Elizabeth River. The real question is how much is that impact? Can it be quantitatively evaluated? Can the impact be measured temporally and spatially? VIMS scientists are working with engineers of Moffatt and Nichol and the Norfolk District of the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers to evaluate the impact of channel deepening on the hydrodynamics and dissolved oxygen (DO), and the flushing capabilities of the Lower James and Elizabeth Rivers, and to provide statistical measures to assess the impact resulting from channel deepening both locally and globally. This report documents hydrodynamic and water quality model simulations for this study and key findings of the water quality model results related to environment assessment, particularly, changes of dissolved oxygen and flushing capacity.



sediment transport, water quality