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Present Practice of Using Nautical Depth to Manage Navigation Channels in the Presence of Fluid Mud

Descriptive Note:

Technical Report

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U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Vicksburg United States

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The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers USACE Dredging Operations and Environmental Research DOER Program, in conjunction with the Monitoring Completed Navigation Projects MCNP program, is conducting research and development activities aimed at implementing the practice of using nautical depth to manage navigation channels in the United States containing fluid mud. In these waterways, compared to those with more consolidated bottom materials e.g., sand, determining where the bottom actually lies for navigation purposes can be difficult. That is because fluid mud, though denser than water, can in certain conditions be navigable. In such cases, the depth of interest is the distance between the water surface and the nautical bottom, referred to as the nautical depth. Using the nautical depth to manage navigation channels and ports requires a mud property that determines a navigability criteria, a practical method for surveying that property, and knowledge of ship-specific behavior in that fluid mud. This technical note describes 1 the nautical depth approach, 2 its present use for managing navigation channels, 3 issues related to conducting hydrographic surveying in waterways with fluid mud bottoms, 4 the newest developments in survey instrumentation, 5 a recent study of ship behavior in fluid mud, and 6 current USACE activities being conducted to implement the use of nautical depth in the United States.

Subject Categories:

  • Hydrology, Limnology and Potamology

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