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A METHODLOGY FOR HAZARD-AWARE HORIZONTAL SITING

AND ALIGNMENT OF AN OPEN PIER - APPPLICATION TO


WEST PHILIPPINE SEA COAST
Eric C. Cruz1

Jose Carlo Eric L. Santos2

Water Resources and Coastal Engineering Group, Institute of Civil Engineering, University of the Philippines, Diliman,
Quezon City 1101; Email: eccruz@upd.edu.ph
2
AMH Philippines, Inc., Bahay ng Alumni Bldg., U.P. Diliman Campus, Quezon City 1101, Philippines

Abstract: This paper aims to present a methodology for the horizontal siting and alignment of an open type of pier
along the coastlines of the country. The methodology is adapted to the countrys hazard-tracked location since most of its
coastlines are traversed by tropical cyclones annually. The method takes into account site-specific data such as tides, typhoon
tracks, cyclone characteristics, and prevailing wave. Optimal siting of an open pier based on prevailing wave climate is
reviewed, then its application to an actual project involving a proposed piled pier in a semi-enclosed coastline along West
Philippine Sea is discussed to demonstrate the input parameters and the numerical analysis of basis quantities for pier siting.
The project application also illustrates the synthesis of engineering parameters that become inputs to preliminary engineering
and/or detailed design. It is shown that it is possible to account for storm hazards in the planning and engineering of an open
pier.

Key words: pier, siting, waves, storm surge, overtopping

1. INTRODUCTION
The Philippines presently has more than 2,467 seaports of
various sizes and types. Due to its location and archipelagic
nature, the country depends on these ports for intra- and
inter-island trade and transportation, as well as for
international commerce and tourism. However, a recent
study of the causes of damage to the major ports of the
country identified the inadequacy of freeboard as one major
cause of structural damage and durability problems to these
ports. A pier is the most common docking facility of a
seaport, and is therefore a crucial element of the ports
master planning. As several new ports are presently in the
planning stage and some others are being rehabilitated, it is
thus important to have a rational approach to the planning,
siting, and preliminary engineering of the ports pier.
Due to the increasing importance of sun and beaches in
the tourism-related activities, the private sector has long
started to develop tourism infrastructures in several beach
coastlines of the country. A pier is the primary facility for
landing and docking of boats and vessels and is thus crucial
in a beach infra master plan. Unlike typical piers, beach
piers are of the open type in order not to hamper the littoral
processes that sustain the beach and maintain the natural
circulation of foreshore waters. Beach piers are also heightlimited to be inconspicuous to guests who normally want to
have an unobstructed view of the sea horizon. Archipelagic
coastlines are generally bounded by other islands, a

projecting headland, or by some morphological features,


such as a spit, that provide some sheltering against waves
approaching from certain directions. Such conditions often
render the determination of the most suitable location and
layout of a beach pier difficult, or at least not straightforward.
This paper discusses a methodology of finding the optimal
location and layout of a beach pier. It also takes up the
accounting of natural hazards from the oceans in the
preliminary engineering of the beach pier.
2. NATURAL HAZARDS ON PIER
For piers, waves are the primary natural hazards in terms of
magnitude and frequency. Wind-generated waves are
perpetual loads that all coastal structures must withstand.
Astronomic tide is another natural hazard that impact on the
siting and engineering of the pier. Tides in archipelagic
coasts are generally higher than those in open coasts and can
thus considerably influence the engineering of a beach pier
structure. Meteorological tide such as typhoon-generated
storm surge is also a major hazard that governs the
conditions for the piers engineering design. While they
occur less frequently that wind waves, their action on coastal
structures, such as seawall and bulkheads, usually amplify
the wave effects such as wave breaking, runup, and wave
set-up. As the Philippines lies in a seismically and
tectonically active part of the world, tsunamis are also a
hazard along most coastlines. While they are the most
infrequent of all wave types reaching the coastline, they

PICE 41st National Convention, Bacolod City, Negros Occidental, 2015 December 2-4

typically have long periods and propagate without breaking


and can thus cause catastrophic effects on land, coastal and
offshore structures.
3. OPTIMAL SITING OF OPEN PIER
The location of a beach pier is optimally determined if it is
in the least wave-agitated zone of a local coast. This location
is determined on the basis of non-storm or prevailing wind
conditions which normally obtain during the piers operation.
The most important function of the pier is to load or unload
cargo or passengers; hence a landing area and mooring zones
must be available to safely secure the vessel. The location
and layout of the pier are determined by: (1) required draft
of the vessel, (2) wave height and directions, and (3)
astronomic tide range. For the coastline exposure of a
project beach pier, Figure 1 shows the annual wind rose
diagram at the nearest wind station of PAGASA in Palawan.
This summarizes the directional and frequency distribution
of non-storm wind speeds over a 30-year period until 2010.
Together with the effective fetches for each direction, a
hindcast of the wave condition in deep water is computed as
summarized in Table 1. Due to the long fetches, computed
non-storm offshore waves are 3-4.4m high, with periods of
6.9-8.1s.

A nearshore wave model is used to determine the local


waves as these offshore waves reach the cost of the proposed
beach pier. Figure 2 shows a snapshot of the propagation of
the prevailing waves from the north, revealing the
complicated
shoaling,
refraction
and
diffraction
transformation in the shallow waters of the project nearshore
zone (red rectangle). The resulting wave heights at high tide
(MTL+0.54) are shown in Figure 3 for the first 2 cases in
Table 1. The synthesis of all offshore wave approach
directions (not all shown in Table 2) clearly indicates an
optimal siting, i.e. the least agitated foreshore zone where
the needed beach pier extending to 4m depth, as laid out in
Figure 3.

Figure 3 Optimal location and layout of beach pier

Figure 1 Wind rose diagram


Table 1. Offshore hindcast of deepwater waves
Annual Fetch Deepwater Waves
Wind
speed m/s Freq. % (km) Hs (m)
Ts (s)
N
13- 16.9
0.1
231
4.38
8.07
NNW 9 - 12.9
0.2
272
3.15
7.10
NW 9 - 12.9
0.1
273
3.15
7.11
W
9 - 12.9
0.7
230
3.00
6.88
Dir.

4. PRELIMINARY ENGINEERING OF PIER


Preliminary engineering of the pier structure starts with the
vertical siting of the pier deck, which is typically designed
not to be overtopped or impinged by surface waves. This
condition is thus based on the highest displacement of the
sea surface, which occurs during typhoons. The vertical
siting of the beach pier follows the methodology used for
vertical siting of bigger piers in the country (Cruz and Luna,
2014), which uses the combination of the storm tides and
wave effects (Figure 4) to determine the minimum vertical
siting of shore-detached offshore structures.

Figure 4 Definition sketch for vertical siting

Figure 2 Simulated waves from north at mean tide

Based on the online database of typhoons of Japan


Meteorological Agency (Digital Typhoons, 2015), the tracks
of all historical typhoons within 150km radius around the
project coast are shown in Figure 5.

PICE 41st National Convention, Bacolod City, Negros Occidental, 2015 December 2-4

Table 4. Synthesis of required Pier Deck Elevation

Figure 5 Tracks of historical typhoons


Table 2 summarizes the parameters of 3 of the recent strong
typhoons that traversed the project beach. The parametric
prediction method (CEM, 2005) is applied to calculate the
cyclone-induced wave conditions in offshore deep water
summarized in Table 3, and a stormy wave model to
simulate the propagation and transformation of these waves
in the project nearshore.

Typhoon Astro. Storm Wave


Tide Surge crest

Wave Required
setup
PDE

Ruping 0.54
Pepang 0.54
Bising 0.54
(unit: m)

-0.02
-0.02
-0.01

1.40
0.48
0.59

1.20
1.36
0.81

3.13
2.37
1.93

5. PIER OVERTOPPING RISK


In order to address the height limitation of beach piers, it is
necessary to carry out an overtopping risk assessment, if the
non-overtopping PDE exceeds this height based on the
beach development objectives. An overtopping pier design
condition (Figure 7) may satisfy the height constraint but
will have the following disadvantages: (1) reduced return
period; (2) requires bigger structural elements due to the
additional loadings such as wave in-deck forces (Tirindelli et
al, 2003) and uplift forces (Gaeta et al, 2012); (3) imposes a
more intensive maintenance program for the pier; and (4)
may significantly increase its trapping action of littoral
materials due to more closely spaced and bigger piles.

Table 2. Meteorological characteristics of historical


typhoons
Typhoon/
Intl code
Yr/mo/day/ hr
Ruping/Mike 1990/11/13 1800
Pepang/Zack 1995/10/29/ 0600
Bising/Nelson 1982/3/27 1200

Vmax
(mps)
38.6
30.8
25.7

Rmax
(km)
185
74.1
0

Pc
(hPa)
960
980
990

Figure 6 shows the simulated wave heights and sea surface


snapshot during typhoon Mike. At the optimal location of
the beach pier, some wave energy concentration of 2m wave
heights can be seen. By computing the storm tide, i.e.
astronomic tide plus storm surge, and combining the wave
effect, i.e. wave crest elevation and wave set-up, from the
stormy wave simulation results, the required nonovertopping Pier Deck Elevation (PDE) is determined for
each of the 3 historical typhoons, as summarized in Table 4.
It is seen that while the wave effect is greatest under Pepang

the required PDE is governed by Ruping at MTL+3.13m.


Table 3. Offshore wave
conditions in deep water
Wave
Wave
Typhoon
Height (m) Period (s)
Ruping
5.1
12.34
Pepang
4.0
10.93
Bising
3.15
9.7

Wave
direction
WNW
WNW
NW +15o PIER

Figure 6 Wave fields due to typhoon Ruping

Non-overtopping

Overtopping

Figure 7 Non-overtopping and overtopping pier


An overtopping PDE is evaluated by computing the
exceedance probability of a lower vertical siting. Since the
storm tides and wave effects are driven primarily by the
wind, a frequency analysis of wind speeds of all historical
cyclones that tracked within 150-km radius around the
project beach was undertaken. The online database for
maximum wind speeds of Japan Meteorological Agency
(Digital Typhoon) was used, drawing about 37 annual
maximum speeds of 55.6-167.7kph over 42 years.
Regression plots and coefficients of determination were used
to determine the best probability density functions (PDF);
the best 2 plots are shown in Figure 8. It is seen the LogNormal PDF yields the best fit in the low-speed range,
although the Weibull PDF yields the best overall fit with a
coefficient of determination of 0.97, from which the return
periods of wind speeds of the 3 critical typhoons,
summarized in Table 5, were computed. Thus a nonovertopping PDE of +3.13 will be exceeded every 12.8 years
on the average, while an overtopping PDE of about +1.73m
will be overtopped about every 2.2 years.

PICE 41st National Convention, Bacolod City, Negros Occidental, 2015 December 2-4

Figure 9 Computed tsunami incursion limits

Figure 8 Plots of probability density functions


Table 5. Return periods of pier vertical siting design
Vertical Siting Return Period
Date (m from MTL)
(years)
Mike/ Ruping 1979-19
3.13
12.78
Zack/ Pepang 1982-02
2.37
4.35
Nelson/ Bising 1995-21
1.93
2.17
Typhoon

6. ASESSMENT OF OTHER OCEAN HAZARDS


Due to the location of the Philippines, most of its coastlines
are susceptible to either historical or potential tsunamis,
which are infrequent compared to typhoons but are
potentially disastrous hazards (Cruz et al., 2010). Beach
piers are commonly located along interior coasts, which are
generally sheltered from far-source tsunami generator, but
can be affected by near-source events. After tsunami
susceptibility is established from a study of historical and
potential tsunamigenic sources, a tsunami incursion map
must be determined for the coast of the proposed beach pier
whose site development plan may be impacted. Figure 9
shows tsunami incursion limits of a beach pier at mean tide
and high tides based on a historical near-source tsunami
event. On account of their low steepness, usually tsunami
height will not govern the non-overtopping PDE of a beach
pier in the nearshore zone. However, the land end of the pier
may unwittingly lie within the incursion zone. This info may
not be critical to the site planning, but is useful for disaster
mitigation planning.

7. CONCLUSIONS
It is necessary to account for the site-specific hazards in the
planning and siting of an open pier along a beach coast.
Non-storm prevailing winds and astronomic tides generally
govern the horizontal siting of the pier so that the structure
serves its intended function during regular, i.e. non-storm,
operations. Once the location is optimally found, the
preliminary engineering shall consider the various natural
hazards including typhoons, high waves, and storm tides. It
should also account for infrequent but potentially
catastrophic hazards such as tsunamis.
The preliminary engineering of a open pier should include
an assessment of the overtopping risks in order to present a
clear and rational basis for selecting design pier elevation to
meet the pier and beach site development plans.
ACKNOWLEDGMENT
The authors acknowledge the assistance of Engrs. Ismael
Aragorn Inocencio and Julius Florenz Giron of AMH
Philippines in the field inspections, data processing and
plotting.
REFERENCES
Coastal Engineering Manual (CEM, 2005). United States
Army Corps of Engineers
Cruz, E.C. and R.A.C. Luna (2014) A methodology for
rational vertical siting of marine infrastructures application to the preliminary engineering of a power
plant along a typhoon-tracked seacoast. Proc., National
Midyear Convention and Technical Seminar, Phil. Inst.
Civil Engrs., Baguio City, 2014 June 6-7, pp. 1-7.
Cruz, E.C., J.C.E.L. Santos and E.P. Kasilag II (2010)
Analysis and accounting of coastal hazards in the
planning and siting of port infrastructures. Proceedings,

PICE 41st National Convention, Bacolod City, Negros Occidental, 2015 December 2-4

5th Civil Engineering Conference in the Asian Region


and Australasian Structural Engineering Conference
2010, 812 August 2010, Sydney, Australia (CECAR5
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Informatics (NII). http://agora.ex.nii.ac.jp/~kitamoto/.
Retrieved 2014 October
Gaeta, M.G., L. Martinelli, A. Lamberti (2012) Uplift forces
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PICE 41st National Convention, Bacolod City, Negros Occidental, 2015 December 2-4