While most students and faculty in the Via Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering were enjoying the warm Blacksburg temperatures, Nina Stark, along with graduate students Freddie Falcone and Ali Albatal, were in Yakutat, Alaska to take the third, and final, field survey. The ICTAS funded project is focused on developing more cost-effective geotechnical survey methods for early stage ocean renewable energy site assessment. The research team includes Dr. Stark, Dr. Chris Zobel from the Pamplin School of Business, and the two geotechnical graduate students.
This data collection complements the team’s previous data set with additional in-situ free fall penetrometer testing in Yakutat Bay and close to Hubbard Glacier. They also completed sediment sampling and pore pressure recordings at Cannon Beach. The area has been identified as an area of interest for the harvesting of wave energy to power surrounding communities through a reliable and cheap electricity source. The City and Borough of Yakutat were highly supportive of the efforts and were instrumental in the study by providing a Harbor Market boat and laboratories for the group’s use.
In 2014, the team covered the offshore area of Yakutat Bay, which is a proposed wave energy converter site. You can read about that trip here. On this trip, they covered the area around Yakutat and the islands, as well as the Northern site of the Bay, stretching from the point and Schooner Beach to the entrance of Disenchantment Bay. Approximately 200 locations were tested within two days.
The overall research target is to investigate pore pressure response to different wave conditions. Stark hopes that the data collected will help them test and improve survey techniques, while also supporting the city through improvements to the geotechnical survey for wave energy. The data can be applied in the future to utilize the motion of ocean surface waves to create electricity for Yakutat.
For more information about this trip, click here.