The Upper Texas Coast Geotube Monitoring Project

James C. Gibeaut, principal investigator; Tiffany L. Hepner, Rachel L. Waldinger, Rebecca C. Smyth, John R. Andrews, and Haiyan E. Yang

Geotubes are tubes that have an oval-shaped cross section made of geotextile fabric. When filled with sand they have a cross section of about 12 ft. They are placed parallel to the shoreline with the intent of protecting property from storm surge and erosion. Overall, the southeastern Texas coast is undergoing long-term shoreline retreat. Recently attention increased on how retreat after Tropical Storms Josephine in 1996 and Frances in 1998 caused episodic erosion and the destruction and endangerment of houses and infrastructure. The erosion has prompted residents and government officials to take stopgap measures, such as geotubes, to mitigate the erosion.

Currently, nine geotube projects cover a total of 7.6 mi of shoreline. There is concern that the tubes may eventually cause the fronting beach to narrow and steepen unnaturally and the adjacent shorelines to retreat at a rate higher than they would without the geotubes in place. Even if the geotubes do not cause changes in the dynamics of the environment, they may eventually form an unacceptable landward boundary to the public beach. This study, begun in 2001, is funded by the Texas Coastal Management Program. During 2002, two ground surveys and an airborne topographic lidar survey were conducted. We also analyzed 2001 data and completed a report, both of which are available on this web page. The results will be used to develop coastal management policy concerning the use of geotubes and will also aid the design of future erosion control projects, such as beach nourishment and other geotube projects in the area.

For more information contact Dr. Jeff Paine, jeff.paine@beg.utexas.edu