Groynes in Sitges

A groyne (groin in the United States) is a rigid hydraulic structure built from an ocean shore (in coastal engineering) or from a bank (in rivers) that interrupts water flow and limits the movement of sediment. In the ocean, groynes create beaches, or avoid having them washed away by longshore drift. In a river, groynes prevent erosion and ice-jamming, which in turn aids navigation. Ocean groynes run generally perpendicular to the shore, extending from the upper foreshore or beach into the water. All of a groyne may be under water, in which case it is a submerged groyne. The areas between groups of groynes are groyne fields. Groynes are generally made of wood, concrete, or rock piles, and placed in groups. They are often used in tandem with seawalls. Groynes, however, may cause a shoreline to be perceived as unnatural and unattractive.


In coastal engineering

Rock groyne

A groyne's length and elevation, and the spacing between groynes is determined according to local wave energy and beach slope. Groynes that are too long or too high tend to accelerate downdrift erosion because they trap too much sediment. Groynes that are too short, too low, or too permeable are ineffective because they trap too little sediment. Flanking may occur if a groyne does not extend far enough landward.

How groynes work

A groyne creates and maintains a wide area of beach or sediment on its updrift side, and reduces erosion on the other. It is a physical barrier to stop sediment transport in the direction of longshore transport (also called Longshore Drift). This causes a build-up, which is often accompanied by accelerated erosion of the downdrift beach, which receives little or no sand from longshore drift (this is known as terminal groyne syndrome, as it occurs after the terminal groyne in a group of groynes). Groynes do not add extra material to a beach, but merely retain some of the existing sediment on the updrift side of the groynes.[citation needed] If a groyne is correctly designed, then the amount of material it can hold will be limited, and excess sediment will be free to move on through the system. However, if a groyne is too large it may trap too much sediment, which can cause severe beach erosion on the down-drift side.

In rivers

River groynes (spur dykes or wing dykes) (American English: "dikes") are often constructed nearly perpendicular to the riverbanks, beginning at a riverbank with a root and ending at the regulation line with a head. They maintain a channel to prevent ice jamming, and more generally improve navigation and control over lateral erosion, that would form from meanders. Groynes have a major impact on the river morphology: they cause autonomous degradation of the river.[1]

They are also used around bridges to prevent bridge scour.


Submerged Groin, Hunting Island, South Carolina
A "Keep of the groynes" sign in Brighton with a groyne showing in the background.

Groynes can be distinguished by how they are constructed, whether they are submerged, their effect on stream flow or by shape.[2]

By construction method

Groynes can be permeable, allowing the water to flow through at reduced velocities, or impermeable, blocking and deflecting the current.

  • Permeable groynes are large rocks, bamboo or timber
  • impermeable groynes (solid groynes or rock armour groynes) are constructed using rock, gravel, gabions.

By whether they are submerged

Groynes can be submerged or not under normal conditions. Usually impermeable groynes are non-submerged, since flow over the top of solid groynes may cause severe erosion along the shanks. Submerged groynes, on the other hand, may be permeable depending on the degree of flow disturbance needed.

By their effect on stream flow

Groynes can be attracting, deflecting or repelling.

  • Attracting groynes point downstream, serving to attract the stream flow toward themselves and not repel the flow toward the opposite bank. They tend to maintain deep current close to the bank.
  • Deflecting groynes change the direction of flow without repelling it. They are generally short and used for limited, local protection.
  • Repelling groynes point upstream; they force the flow away from themselves. A single groyne may have one section, for example, attracting, and another section deflecting.

By shape

Groynes can be built with different planview shapes. Examples are straight groynes, T head, L head, hockey stick, inverted hockey stick groynes, straight groynes with pier head, wing, and tail groynes.


See also


  1. ^ Yossef (2005)
  2. ^ Przedwojski et al. (1995)


  • Construction Industry Research and Information Association (1990) Groynes in coastal engineering : data on performance of existing groyne systems, CIRIA technical note 135, London : CIRIA, ISBN 0-86017-314-3
  • Crossman, M. and Simm, J. (2004) Manual on the use of timber in coastal and river engineering, HR Wallingford, London : Thomas Telford, ISBN 0-7277-3283-8
  • French, P.W. (2001) Coastal defences : processes, problems and solutions, London : Routledge, ISBN 0-415-19844-5
  • Hoyle, J.W. and King, J.T. (1971) The principles of coast protection, Lyndhurst : the authors, ISBN 0-903015-00-5
  • Przedwojski, B., Błażejewski, R and Pilarczyk, K.W. (1995) River training techniques : fundamentals, design and applications, Rotterdam : Balkema, ISBN 90-541-0196-2
  • Walker, D.J. (1987) Nearshore hydrodynamics and the behaviour of groynes on sandy beaches, PhD thesis, Imperial College London, 277 p.
  • Yossef, M.F.M. (2005) Morphodynamics of rivers with groynes, Delft Hydraulics select series, 7/2005, Delft University Press, ISBN 90-407-2607-8

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Groyne — Groyne, n. [Obs.] See {Groin}. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • groyne — groin [grɔın] n a low wall built out into the sea to prevent the sea from removing sand and stones from the shore …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • groyne — [ grɔın ] noun count a wall built out into the ocean to protect the beach from being destroyed by the water …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • groyne — strong, low sea wall, 1580s, perhaps from obsolete groin pig s snout (c.1300; the wall so called because it was thought to look like one), from O.Fr. groin, from L. grunnire grunt …   Etymology dictionary

  • groyne — (US groin) ► NOUN ▪ a low wall or barrier built out into the sea from a beach to prevent erosion and drifting. ORIGIN from dialect groin snout , from Latin grunium pig s snout …   English terms dictionary

  • groyne — UK [ɡrɔɪn] / US noun [countable] Word forms groyne : singular groyne plural groynes a wall built out into the sea to protect the beach from being destroyed by the water …   English dictionary

  • groyne — groin, groyne The groin is the part of the body between the belly and thigh; a groyne (AmE groin) is a low wall or timber framework built out from a sea shore to prevent beach erosion …   Modern English usage

  • groyne — noun /ɡɹɔɪn/ A (usually wooden) structure that projects from a coastline to prevent erosion, longshore drift etc.; a breakwater , 1993, Our assimilation into one another had been beautifully timed, with each little revelation of unpleasantness… …   Wiktionary

  • groyne — buna statusas T sritis ekologija ir aplinkotyra apibrėžtis Hidrotechninis įrenginys – pusinė (iš vieno galo nesiekianti kranto) užtvanka ar jų grupė sąnašoms paplūdimyje kaupti, krantui nuo išplovimo saugoti. atitikmenys: angl. bankhead; groyne;… …   Ekologijos terminų aiškinamasis žodynas

  • groyne — noun Etymology: by alteration Date: 1582 groin 3 …   New Collegiate Dictionary