International Journal of Geosciences, 2010, 14-20
doi:10.4236/ijg.2010.11002 Published Online May 2010 (
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. IJG
Sedimentation Processes at the Navigation Channel of the
Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Port, Nile Delta, Egypt
Essam Abd El-Halim Mohamed Deabes
Physical Oceanography Department, Coastal Research Institute (CoRI), Alexandria, Egypt
Received March 12, 2010; revised April 11, 2010; accepted May 5, 2010
Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) port is located at Abu Qir Bay on the northwestern coast of the Nile delta,
Egypt. The port was constructed in 2004 to export liquefied natural gas worldwide. The offshore basins of
this port including the turning and berthing areas (15-m depth) are connected to the deep water by a 15-m
depth dredged channel that extends 4 km offshore. However, the navigation channel and its contiguous ba-
sins have experienced problematic shoaling that might affect the navigation activities of gas tankers. Sedi-
mentation processes have been investigated by analyses of waves, currents, bathymetry, grain size of seabed
and channel dimensions. Sedimentation rates are estimated using a developed numerical model. Sedimenta-
tion rate fluctuates between 0.048 × 106 m3/month and 0.388 × 106 m3/month, with an annual sedimentation
rate of 1.977 × 106 m3/yr. The variance in the sedimentation rates between winter and summer resulted in
increasing of current speed and direction flowing towards offshore. The sedimentation process is influenced
by the temporal variability in the direction and intensity of the predominant waves, currents, orientation of
navigation channel, basin breakwaters, seafloor morphology and sediment sources. Due to the geographic
location of LNG port it lays within a sediment sink for sediments supplied from different alternating direc-
tions by several pathways, flowing towards the N-W, S-W, N-E, and S-E quadrants. Most of these currents
components are substantially effective in transporting fine-grained sediment towards the navigation channel
axis and contiguous basins. Together with these currents, the predominant NW and SE waves acting to agi-
tate and stirrup sediments in the vicinity of the port, and thereby accelerating sedimentation rates.
Keywords: Sedimentation Rate, Nile Delta, Navigation Channel, Bed Load, Suspended Load and Sediment
1. Introduction
During the last three decades, there have been a large
number of harbors built along the Nile delta coast as a
result of the increasing development of this valuable re-
gion. Unfortunately, most of these harbors are experi-
encing frequent sedimentation and siltation in their ac-
cess channels due to the higher littoral drift rate and
sedimentation imbalance [1]. Consequently, harbor au-
thorities have to periodically dredge and remove away
the accumulated sand in order to improve the navigation
shoaling. For example at the Damietta harbor, routinely
annual dredging of its channel has being undertaken
since 1986, averaging of 1.18 × 106 m
3/yr [2]. Studies
dealt with sedimentation of the Damietta channel are also
discussed by Deabes [3] and Abd-Allah, et al. [4].
The Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) port was con-
structed in 2004, to export liquefied natural gas to other
countries worldwide. The port is located on the inner
continental shelf of the northwestern Nile Delta and at
about 13-km southwest of the Rosetta Nile mouth. The
turning and berthing basins (15 m depth) are connected
to the deep water by means of dredged channel-entrance
of 4 km length (Figure 1). This navigation channel is
oriented in the NW direction (~1350 from the north) and
attaining about 15-m depth and 245 m width. The berth-
ing basin is connected with the shore facilities via a
~2.0-km long pier (pilled jetty). This long pier carries the
liquefied gas pipeline system up to the berthing basin.
The side slopes of the channel are approximately 1:25
(eastern bank) and 1:75 (western bank). The port basins
are protected from the N-W waves by a breakwater of
~900 m length which is roughly parallel to the shoreline.
Figure 1. Map of Abu Qir Bay on the Nile delta coast show-
ing location of the Natural Gas (LNG) Port. The inset map
shows the navigation channel, the turning and berthing
basins of the port. Depth contours in maters.
This breakwater is placed at 11.5 m depth contour. This
breakwater also provided shelter for anchored vessels.
The primary objective of this study is to estimate the
monthly sedimentation rates in the navigation channel of
the LNG port using a developed numerical model. The
second objective is to analyze driving forces (waves and
currents) that are influenced in the sedimentation process.
Generally, there are two approaches commonly used
when estimating the sedimentation rates in channels and
trenches. The first method involves calculating different
change in water depth between two successive bathymet-
ric surveys and the second empirically computes the vol-
ume of material that deposited into a navigation channel
or a pathway. In this study a mathematical model has
been developed to estimate rates of sediment deposited
in the navigation channel.
2. Material and Methods
In this study, main factors contributing to the process of
sedimentation of the LNG port are assessed, including
waves, currents, bathymetry and grain size distribution of
seabed sediments. Wave and current data are provided by
the coastal Research Institute [5]. Whereas the nearshore
bathymetry and mean grain size distribution of the near-
shore area hosted the navigation channel and port basins
are consulted from Frihy et al. [6].
Wave regime is statistically analyzed from wave re-
cords measured at Abu Qir Bay (see inset map in Figure
1 for location). Waves were measured using S4DW
gauge installed in 10 m water depth immediately north of
the turning area. This wave gauge records both direc-
tional wave and current spectrum for 20 minutes every 4
hours. Measurements were recorded over 12 months be-
tween October 2004 and September 2005. The raw data
obtained from the S4DW gauge was transferred to a PC
computer and statistically analyzed to determine wave
height, wave period, wave direction and current (speed
and direction).
2.1. Mathematical Model Developed
In preceding years, many simplest prediction methods
have been proposed to calculate the sedimentation rate of
dredged channels. More reliable prediction methods are
those used mathematical or numerical model in which
the sediment transport rate is computed from current and
wave information. Basically, an accurate sedimentation
prediction requires diverse information on detailed field
survey to determine the boundary conditions, current sp-
eed, streamline patterns, wave characteristics, grain size,
composition and porosity of bed materials, sediment
concentration, particle fall velocities of suspended sedi-
ment and effective bed roughness.
Before discussing the mathematical approach devel-
oped in this study a cross and longitudinal diagram for
the navigation channel with mathematic definition are
presented in Figure 2. The present model is developed to
Figure 2. Longitudinal (A) and across-navigation channel
sections (B) of LNG port, with mathematic definitions cited
in the text.
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. IJG
16 E. A. E. M. DEABES
compute the sediment transport rate (bed-load and sus-
pended-load) from the current and wave characteristics
according to the transport law derived by Bailard [7] and
Bailard and Inman [8], their formulae are given as fol-
tan (1)
tan U
in which :
qb = instantaneous bed-load transport rate per unit
length (m
qs = instantaneous suspended-load transport rate per
unit length (m
fw = friction factor
eb = efficiency factor for bed load transport
( = 0.11-0.15 )
es = efficiency factor for suspended load transport
( = 0.016-0.024 )
β = local bottom slope (
o )
γ = dynamic friction angle (
o )
γ = 0.75 for Φ = 0o , γ = 0.75 for Φ = 90o and
γ = 1.1 for Φ = 180o
(liner interpolation for intermediate values)
Ws= particle fall velocity (m/sec)
U = | U2w + U2
c + 2 Uw Uc cos Φ |0.5 (m/sec)
instantaneous near-bed velocity vector
Uw= ûδ sin (
t) = near-bed orbital velocity (m/sec)
Uc = near-bed current velocity (m/sec)
Φ = angle between current direction and wave propa-
gation direction
ûδ = veloity at the edge of the wave boundary layer c
= ω
ω = 2 л / T = angular velocity
The friction factor fw is calculated as follows.
 19.0
2.56exp sw KAf
in which:
= the peak value of the orbital excursion (m)
H = wave height (m)
k = wave number (m
h = water depth (m)
Ks = bed roughness (m)
Ks= 2 d50
d50 = is the diameter of grain size
The particle fall velocity is calculated as follows.
 1
10 5.0
for 100 < d < 1000 µm
in which:
d = d50 = sieve diameter (m)
S = specific gravity (= 2.65)
ν = kinematic viscosity coefficient (m2/sec)
ν = 1.011 × 10–6 m
2/sec at T=20
ν = [1.14 – 0.031 (T – 15) + 0.00068 (T – 15)2] × 10–6
The sedimentation rate per unit length of the naviga-
tion channel of LNG port is equal to sum of the bed-load
transport which was completely deposited in the channel
plus a small portion of suspended-load deposited in the
channel (S). According to Sutrench model [9], the
sedimentation rate (S) per unit length of channel result-
ing from the incoming suspended-load sediment trans-
port can be calculated by the following equation:
00 sin
in which:
e = the trapping efficiency factor
S0 = incoming suspended load transport
α0 = the approach angle (angle between the direction
of current and channel axis)
The trapping efficiency factor (e) is defined as the
relative difference of the incoming suspended load trans-
port and the minimum suspended load transport in the
channel. In the present study the trapping efficiency fac-
tor (e) for the navigation channel of the LNG port has
been determined using the graphs constructed by the
application of Sutrench model [9].
3. Results and Discussion
The first requirement in dealing with harbor sedimenta-
tion is to understand the processes and hydrodynamic
forces dominated, such as waves, water circulation, sed-
iment sources, seabed topography and port orientation.
3.1. Wave Characteristics
Waves and currents are the principal driving forces for
the transport of sediments on the most of the coasts and
adjacent shelves. The main function of waves is to agi-
tate the sediments and put them in suspension case. They
are also responsible for driving sediment along shoreline
and/or in the on-offshore directions. So characterization
of waves and currents is necessary to understand their
role in inducing shoreline changes and sedimentation pr-
ocess in channels and waterways.
Results yielded from statistical analysis of wave data
recorded at the LNG port are depicted as monthly and
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. IJG
annual roses in Figures 3(A) and 3(B). As can be seen,
waves mainly approach the port from two quadrants, the
N-W (NNW, NW, and WNW) and N-E (NNE, NE, and
ENE). The percentage of occurrence of waves blown
from the N-W and N-E quadrants, respectively, is 92%
and 7% during the examined wave period. Winter
storm-waves, Hs > 2 m, occurred 8 times versus ordinary
waves (Hs less than 2 m). About 81% of waves have
wave height less than 1.0 m. Maximum and average an-
nual significant wave height are 4.51 m and 0.66 m, re-
spectively, (measured at 10-m water depth) with a mean
peak spectral wave period of 6.7 second. Overall, the
study area is wave dominated environment. Tide is a
typical semi-diurnal microtidal regime with a mean tidal
range of 50 cm [3].
The monthly distribution of wave direction in Figure
3(A) demonstrates that the N-W waves appear in all ex-
amined one-year period, while the N-E waves exist only
in 5 months (October, November, December, January
and April). Only three months (October, December, and
May) reveal waves blowing from the S-W quadrant. As
expected, the monthly average and maximum wave
height in winter period is greater than that in summer
Figure 3. (A) Monthly distribution of waves measured at
Abu Qir Bay between October 2004 and September 2005
(12 months). (B) Total distribution of wave height-direction
(wave rose) at the same period.
period. Among all directions, the N-W and to some exte-
nt the N-E waves are of greater importance for sediment
transport processes because of their long duration, partic-
ularly in winter. These predominant wave components
are responsible for driving energy toward the LNG navi-
gation channel resulting in agitation and turbulence of
the seabed sediment. The offshore breakwater east of the
turning and berthing basins provide natural protection
and sheltering from waves arrives from the NW (92%),
and totally exposed to the NE component (7%), Figures
1 and 3. Therefore, the lack of any significant shelters of
the navigation channel means that it is essentially open to
all waves approaching from the prevailing N-W and N-E
quadrants, leading to stirrup and agitates sediments in the
vicinity of the port, and thereby increasing sedimentation.
3.2. Current Regime
Current regime was analyzed from records measured
immediately east of LNG port using the S4DW wave
gauge (see position in Figure 1). Results demonstrate
that currents in the study area moving towards all direc-
tions, being N-W (52%), S-W (20%), N-E (15%) and
S-E (13%) quadrants (Figures 4 and 5). As the mon-
thly average (9.6 m/sec) and maximum current speeds
(32.5 m/sec) in winter are greater than that in summer
months (3.2 m/sec and 15.3 m/sec), sedimentation rate in
winter is much higher (Figure 6(C)). Currents flowing
towards the NE to SW (20%) that are responsible for
transporting sediment from moving sediment eroded
from the Rosetta promontory are essentially effective in
the sedimentation process of the navigation channel and
the berthing basin. The Rosetta promontory north of the
study area has been subjected to some of the most severe
shoreline and seabed erosion of all the world’s delta
coastlines during the 20th century [6,10], see Figure 1
for location. Under the effect of waves and currents ma-
jor transport reversal occurs in front of the Rosetta mouth,
creating a divergent sediment transport nodal zone where
sand moves to both the east and southwest away from the
month. Acting with the S-W currents (20%) are the op-
posing N-E currents (15%) that move sediment from
Abu Qir Bay towards the navigation channel as well as
the port basins (Figure 5). Both the southwest and
northeast-directed sediment are the major factors con-
tributed to the sedimentation processes of the LNG port.
The other opposing seaward N-W (52%) and landward
S-E (13%) currents also affect the port substantially.
However, among these two quadrants, the NW (17%)
and SE (3.6%) current components have insignificant
contribution to the sedimentation processes because they
are generally flowing parallel to the main axis of the en-
trance channel. It has been found that the interpreted
current regime in LNG area is closely corresponds to the
overall pattern obtained by Frihy et al. [6] based on the
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. IJG
18 E. A. E. M. DEABES
Figure 4. (A) Monthly distribution of current directions at
Abu Qir Bay between October 2004 and September 2005
(12 months). (B) Total distribution of current speed direc-
tion (current rose) at the same period.
spatial dispersion of mean grain size and magnetic min-
erals in the seabed sediments.
3.3. Sedimentation Process
Grain size distribution of sediments hosting LNG port
has been described by Frihy et al. [6]. Accordingly,
cross-shelf sediment pattern shows fining trends in two
directions. A seaward fining trend starts from the shore-
line to a distance of 10 km at 15 m water depth (Mz =
0.004-0.063-mm). This fining pattern indicates sediment
transport to the NW and is mainly caused by a shoreward
increase of wave energy dissipation induced by shoaling
and current-driven sediment transport processes. Unlike this
pattern, cross-contour clay and silt belts (0.01 to 0.06 mm)
truncate the sand belts at the north sector of the area.
This sediment pattern suggests that the fine-grained sand
and mud flooring the vicinity of the port area are able to
be bypassed to the navigation channel and basins and
thereby inducing sedimentation.
The data required to run the developed include time
series of waves and currents, grain size of seabed sediment
(Mz = 0.09), channel width (250 m), length (4000 m), ori-
entation of channel axis (135o from north) and bathymet-
ric map of (see Figure 5). Results obtained from running
the developed numerical model are listed in Table 1. As
can be noticed the sedimentation rate calculated during
winter (October 2004-March 2005) is greater than that of
summer (April 2005-September 2005). Winter period is
generally characterized by higher monthly sedimentation
rates (> 0.1 × 106 m
3/month), with a maximum rate of
0.388 × 106 m
3/month occurred in January 2005. Whe-
reas, lower rates (< 0.1 × 106 m
3/month) occurred in
summer, with a lowest value 0.048 × 106 m3/month in
July 2005. The annual rate of sedimentation is 1.977 ×
106 m3/yr.
The proportion of bed-load sediments fluctuates be-
tween 68.2 and 83.9%, with an average of 78%. Sus-
pended-load varies from 16.1 to 31.8%, with an average
22%. This means that suspended-load sediments contrib-
uted to about 22% of the volume of deposited sands,
while bed-load sediments represent about 78% of that
Figure 5. Map of the nearshore area of the study LNG port
showing spatial distribution of mean grain size of bottom
sediments and bathymetry (modified from Frihy et al. [6]).
Sediment transport paths involved in the sedimentation
processes of the port channel and basins are depicted as
arrows. The size of arrows quantitatively represents wave
and current proportions. The general transport paths indi-
cate that the port area is interpreted as a sediment sink for
several current pathways towards the N-W, S-W, N-E, and
S-E quadrants. Depth contours in meters.
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. IJG
Figure 6. Monthly average and maximum values of signif-
icant wave height (A) and current speed (B). (C) Sediments
involved in the processes of sedimentation of the navigation
cannel and port basins are suspended matters (Ss) and
bedload modes (Sb). Results estimated using the model
developed in the present study between October 2004 and
September 2005.
Table 1. Calculated monthly volume, suspended and bed
load sediments acting in the navigation channel of LNG
port between october 2004 and september 2005.
Months Sb (m3) Ss (m3)total Qs (m
3) Sb%Ss%
Oct. 2004 91702.58 33745.54125448.12 73.1026.9
Nov. 2004 274124.91 103036.86377161.77 72.6827.32
Dec. 2004 169666.30 79275.65248941.95 68.1531.85
Jan. 2005 290910.17 97072.49387982.66 74.9825.02
Feb. 2005 209939.43 44601.09254540.52 82.4817.52
Mar. 2005 89237.03 17067.55106304.58 83.9416.06
Apr. 2005 91493.67 20765.84112259.51 81.5018.50
May 2005 56443.38 13660.2270103.60 80.5119.49
Jun. 2005 49917.33 13782.3163699.64 78.3621.64
Jul. 2005 35261.74 12871.4348133.16 73.2626.74
Aug. 2005 60384.48 12040.2672424.74 83.3816.62
Sept. 2005 85948.23 24332.42110280.65 77.9422.06
Total period 1505029.24 472251.661977280.9 77.6022.40
(Sb = bed-load sedimentation rate
Ss = suspended-load sedimentation rate)
4. Summary and Conclusions
The two port basins (turning and berthing areas) and the
contiguous navigation channel of LNG port are located
at Abu Qir Bay on the northwest margin of the Nile delta.
This port is of considerable socioeconomic importance,
supporting exporting gas industry that relies on the shel-
tered port areas to serve as mooring points for the inter-
national gas tankers. Presently, the channel entrance and
the two basins (15-m water depth) are experiencing con-
siderable sedimentation; therefore they are dredged pe-
riodically to insure safety navigation for LNG vessels.
A dataset of waves, current and texture of seabed are
interpreted to precisely evaluate sedimentation processes
taking place in this port. Waves approach the port blow-
ing from two main dominant quadrants, the N-W and
N-E. These waves actively act to agitate and stirrup sedi-
ments as bead-load and suspended modes, directly to-
ward the navigation channel and port basins. However,
the port basins are protected from wave exposure from
the N-W waves by a 900-m breakwater and not from the
N-E waves.
Wind and wave-driven currents are responsible to ac-
cumulate large portion of sediments (very fine sand and
mud) in the port vicinity and subsequently negatively
affecting the navigation channel and basins. Both the
opposing S-W and N-E current paths produce sand and
mud accumulation in the nearshore area hosting the port
channel and basins. The principal sources of sediment
contributed to the processes of sedimentation of the LNG
are the eroded Rosetta promontory and the inner shelf of
Abu Qir Bay. These sediment sources supply large quan-
tities of fine-grained sand and mud to the basins and
channel via opposing S-W and N-E currents. Other op-
posing N-W (seaward) and S-E (landward) currents have
also significance effect, with exception of the NW and
SE components which are flowing parallel to the channel
axis. The seaward current moves sediment from the sur-
fzone whereas landward one from offshore sources, both
toward the port. This generally implies that the naviga-
tion channel and its adjacent basins are apparently acting
effectively as a sediment sink for sediments supplied
from the four quadrants.
The dataset interpreted in this study are also incorpo-
rated into a mathematical procedure for calculating rate of
sedimentation in the port facilities. Monthly sedimenta-
tion rates yielded from applying the developed model
fluctuate between 0.048 × 106 and 0.388 × 106 m3/month,
with an annual rate of 1.977 × 106 m3/yr. This annual
rate is closely comparable to the sediments accumulated
in the port as estimated by HR Wallingford (2004) based
on bathymetric survey and numerical model. Sus-
pended-load sediment contributed to about one-fifth of
the total of sediments, while the bed-load mode is ap-
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. IJG
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. IJG
proximately four-fifth of the sediments that deposited in
the navigation channel. In comparison, these estimated
proportions are found to be in agreement with results
obtained by Komar and Inman [11], Komar [12] and
Inman, et al. [13].
5. Acknowledgements
The author appreciates the assistance of the staff of the
Coastal Research Institute for the field and laboratory
activities of this study. Appreciation is also given to Drs.
Omran Frihy, Abdel Monaam Badr and Abu Bakr.
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