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Asphalt and sandbag revetment with a geotextile filter

A revetment in stream restoration, river engineering or coastal engineering is a facing of impact-resistant material (such as stone, concrete, sandbags, or wooden piles) applied to a bank or wall in order to absorb the energy of incoming water and protect it from erosion. River or coastal revetments are usually built to preserve the existing uses of the shoreline and to protect the slope.

In architecture generally, it means a retaining wall. In military engineering it is a structure formed to secure an area from artillery, bombing, or stored explosives.

Freshwater revetments


Many revetments are used to line the banks of freshwater rivers, lakes, and man-made reservoirs, especially to prevent damage during periods of floods or heavy seasonal rains (see riprap). Many materials may be used: wooden piles, loose-piled boulders[1] or concrete shapes,[2] or more solid banks.

Concrete revetments are the most common type of infrastructure used to control the Mississippi River.[3] More than 1,000 miles (1,600 km) of concrete matting has been placed in river bends between Cairo, Illinois and the Gulf of Mexico to slow the natural erosion that would otherwise frequently change small parts of the river's course.[3]

Revetments as coastal defence

Wooden revetments
Dynamic revetment Cape Lookout State Park Oregon

Revetments are used as a low-cost solution for coastal erosion defense in areas where crashing waves may otherwise deplete the coastline.

Wooden revetments are made of planks laid against wooden frames so that they disrupt the force of the water. Although once popular, the use of wooden revetments has largely been replaced by modern concrete-based defense structures such as tetrapods. In the 1730s, wooden revetments protecting dikes in the Netherlands were phased out due to the spread of shipworm infestations.[4]

Dynamic revetments use gravel or cobble-sized rocks to mimic a natural cobble beach for the purpose of reducing wave energy and stopping or slowing coastal erosion.[5] Unlike solid structures, dynamic revetments are designed to allow wave action to rearrange the stones into an equilibrium profile, disrupting wave action and dissipating wave energy as the cobbles move. This can reduce the wave reflection which often contributes to beach scouring.[6][7]


Tetrapod revetment along the waterfront at Mumbai

In coastal engineering, a tetrapod is a four-legged concrete structure used as armour unit on breakwaters. The tetrapod's shape is designed to dissipate the force of incoming waves by allowing water to flow around rather than against it, and to reduce displacement by allowing a random distribution of tetrapods to mutually interlock.


World War I: British diagram for the construction of revetted trenches - the revetment here is the part forward of the standing soldier.

According to the U.S. National Park Service, and referring mostly to their employment in the American Civil War, a revetment is defined as a "retaining wall constructed to support the interior slope of a parapet. Made of logs, wood planks, fence rails, fascines, gabions, hurdles, sods, or stones, the revetment provided additional protection from enemy fire, and, most importantly, kept the interior slope nearly vertical. Stone revetments commonly survive. A few log revetments have been preserved due to high resin pine or cypress and porous sandy soils. After an entrenchment was abandoned, many log or rail revetments were scavenged for other uses, causing the interior slope to slump more quickly. An interior slope will appear more vertical if the parapet eroded with the revetment still in place."[8]

See also



  1. ^ Lake Ontario Riparian Alliance. "Stone Revetments...Frequently Asked Questions." Archived 2018-09-30 at the Wayback Machine Accessed 2009-05-25.
  2. ^ Concrete shaped revetments Archived 2009-01-23 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ a b "The struggle to control the Mississippi can help us understand the U.S." Washington Post. Retrieved 2018-05-18.
  4. ^ "Molluscan Explosion: The Dutch Shipworm Epidemic of the 1730s". 16 August 2015.
  5. ^ Dan Hammock (April 20, 2019). "Dynamic revetment revealed as top choice for North Cove shoreline preservation". Daily World.
  6. ^ John P. Ahrens (1990). "Dynamic Revetments". Coastal Engineering 1990. 22nd International Conference on Coastal Engineering. pp. 1837–1850. doi:10.1061/9780872627765.140. ISBN 9780872627765.
  7. ^ Jonathan C. Allan; Ron Geitgey; Roger Hart (August 2005). "Dynamic Revetments for Coastal Erosion in Oregon Final Report SPR 620" (PDF). Oregon Department of Transportation Research Unit.
  8. ^ U.S. National Park Service. "Military Earthworks Terms". Archived from the original on 2012-10-20. Retrieved 2009-05-25.



River and levee management