This paper presents an integrated summary of coastal inlet functional design and the
various morphologic processes that must be taken into account in treating the ocean,
inlet, adjacent beaches, and bay as a sediment-sharing system. The paper is based on
experience in designing two inlets (including Packery Channel, Texas, under
construction; Fig. 2), as well as study of many inlets on the four coasts of the United
States ranging from largest to smallest. The objectives of this paper are to summarize
major morphologic responses to coastal inlets and to give guidance for inlet functional
design as it relates to navigation considerations and morphologic responses.
Fig. 2. Packery Channel (Inlet), Texas, under construction, March 2005
INLET FUNCTIONAL DESIGN CONSIDERATONS
Inlet functional design must balance conflicting requirements of maintaining inlet
stability, promoting natural sediment bypassing, and maximizing navigation reliability.
Navigation reliability means providing safe navigation for the common wave and tide
conditions. Considerations of inlet functional design with respect to interaction of the
inlet, coast, and bay depend on the type of engineering action to be taken as:
1. Creation of a new inlet or relocation of an existing inlet.
2. Stabilization of an existing inlet by construction of jetties.
3. Modification of an existing inlet as by rehabilitation of the jetties, relocation of
jetties, allowing existing jetties to deteriorate (a passive modification),
deepening or widening the channel, and other similar activities.