Breakwaters are "free standing" stone structures placed offshore to control shoreline erosion by maintaining a wide, protective beach. They "break" the force of the waves and dissipate the energy so the waves do not erode the beach and upland banks. A study of breakwater sites in the Chesapeake Bay allows documentation of the performance of the breakwater systems relative to predictions, and also helps develop guidelines for breakwaters in sand limited and fetch limited systems such as estuaries, reservoirs, lakes and bays.
General site and project information for each site can be found in the Chesapeake Bay Breakwater Database. Four sites (Aquia Landing, Kingsmill, Van Dyke, and Yorktown) were selected for detailed analysis after Hurricane Isabel impacted the Bay in September 2003. The results of this analysis showed that the breakwaters provided significant protection to the land, while the structures experienced little or no damage. The sand that was introduced due to overwash from the storm may have enhanced the breakwater systems by accelerating the equilibrium beach-building process. For more information and analysis results about these sites, please refer to the report, "Hurricane Isabel Impacts to Four Breakwater Systems".