Shoreline Protection

  • Sill
    Sill   A sill with marsh in a medium to high energy environment. The riprap structure is necessary to provide protection to the planted marsh and, therefore, stability to the shoreline. Without the sill, the marsh would erode due to the site’s wave climate. A gap in the structure provides a sandy beach and access to the river.   Photo by Shoreline Studies Program
  • Bulkhead
    Bulkhead   A bulkheaded shoreline that is nearly overtopped at high tide. During storm events, this structure will not protect the structures that are built too close to the shoreline.   Photo by Shoreline Studies Program
  • Sill with Marsh
    Sill with Marsh   A sill with planted marsh grass in a low to medium energy environment that provides critical Bay habitat and protection to the upland bank.   Photo by Shoreline Studies Program
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In order to maintain a more natural coastal profile, the Shoreline Studies Program at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science prefers to use Living Shoreline methods for shore stabilization. Living shorelines consist of sand, plants, and rocks that create a sloped land/water interface to protect the base of the bank. The site-specific conditions determine the most effective configuration of these elements for shore protection. 

It's important to know that most shoreline structures, in-and-of-themselves, don't prevent flooding due to storm surge during large events, but they can mitigate damage by reducing the energy of waves breaking on structures.  Marshes and beaches have been shown to absorb a great deal of energy as the waves travel across. Dunes provide a “backstop” for surge and waves in lower elevation areas. Grading of higher banks will allow waves to “run up” the slope rather than break on it, potentially reducing erosion during storm events.

Most shoreline management options require a permit.


Shoreline Studies Home Page