Results of the RFBR project 18-55-76002 in 2018 (March 2019)

The widespread use of geosynthetic materials in hydraulic engineering is due to the enormous economic effect. It is considered that geosynthetic materials, if properly treated with antioxidants, will serve in underwater structures for at least 100 years (under conditions of limited access of oxygen and low temperatures). However, the effects of sea, sun, wind and people affect geosynthetics, which is used in shore protection. And it collapses. This can become sources of a new type of pollutant – residues (debris) of geotextile materials, which later turn into microparticles (known as microplastic) that are dangerous to the environment.

In the course of research in 2018, information on the parameters of 13 coastal defenses on the coast of the Kaliningrad Oblast (Russian territory in the South-Eastern Baltic), in which geosynthetic materials are used, was obtained and verified. These structures were built over the past 10 years and protect 7 km of the coast. The analysis of the length of the protected coast with the use of geosynthetic materials and the timing of its operation in an aggressive coastal-marine environment was carried out in the project. It was found that in practice such facilities are potential sources of contamination with various synthetic elements.

Monitoring of the beaches of the South-Eastern Baltic showed that fragments of geosynthetic materials from the coastal and engineering structures are unevenly distributed. Several methods of searching for fragments of geosynthetic materials have been tested, as a result of which a method of “Continuous visual scanning” has been developed. This technique allows to objectively assess the degree of pollution of beaches with geosynthetic materials. It was revealed that the greatest visible effect in the pollution of beaches is made by the remnants of woven textiles (big bags / bags), actively breaking up into fibers. These fibers migrate along the coast, settling on the beach and at the bottom. Fragments of nonwoven geotextiles (such as dornit) from the protective berms / blind area enter the marine environment in large quantities.

Method of “Continuous visual scanning”
Field board

29 expedition exits (during June – November 2018) were conducted to survey the state of pollution of the coastal strip of the Kaliningrad Oblast. The entire coast (135 km) of the Vistula and Curonian Spit, the western and northern coasts of the Sambian Peninsula were surveyed by using the “Continuous visual scanning” methodic. The remains of geosynthetic materials used in the shore protection structures (dornit, geogrids, geo cells, gabion braids), as well as other materials (Big bags, colored rods, car tires, fishing nets, ropes / ropes) were found.

Table 1. Examples of the state of different types of geosynthetic materials

Type New /
non- worn out
Worn out High worn out
Dornit
Dornit
Gabion braid
Big-Bag

The dimensions of the remnants of geosynthetic materials, that were found on the beach and in the riparian strip of the shores of the Kaliningrad Oblast, vary from a few centimeters to several meters.

The dimensions of the remnants of geosynthetic materials vary from a few centimeters…
… to several meters

The primary analysis of the data obtained showed strong contamination with residues of geosynthetic material and other large debris on the northern coast of the Sambian Peninsula and on the Curonian Spit. Similar pollution on the western coast of the Sambian Peninsula and on the Vistula Spit is practically not found, which correlates with the location of the main engineering structures.

A separate project task is to simulate the behavior of residual geosynthetic materials. It can be implemented using algorithms already implemented by the SHYFEM model. Numerical simulation (with emphasis on the parameterization of the transport of particles of geosynthetic materials) will be based on field data taking into account the typical types of pollutants and their sources. Gabion braids (almost neutral buoyancy) and dornit pieces (sand-rich material heavier than water) will be used as test impurities.

Analysis of the results of surveys of the coastal strip of the Kaliningrad Oblast showed that the bulk of the remnants of geosynthetic materials were found within a radius of 2-5 km from the expected sources, but mostly east of them. This characterizes the existing spacing of these pollutants, which began to appear in the coastal zone after 2010. The most common pollutant can be called the remnants of a sheath from gabions, and their distribution range extends to the Lithuanian border on the Curonian Spit.

Storm episodes and long periods of wind-wave load on the coast lead to active migration of fragments of geosynthetic materials. It is likely that part of the geosynthetic material settles on the coastal slope, and during the storm it migrates with algae and other sedimentary material, is carried to the beach, and can also return to the sea again, undergoing a mechanical impact from the sedimentary material. Fragments of geosynthetics can be transported over fairly long distances by currents.

The greatest visible effect in the pollution of the beaches is made by the remnants of woven textiles that actively break down into fibers. Its migrate along the coast, settling on the beach and at the bottom, pollute the entire coastline, staying deep in the beach or intermingling with algae and other debris. Thus, a known geosynthetic material from a certain source can serve as a tracer for determining the transfer of material by currents.

Project EI-GEO Intermediate Report 2, Form 1

Project name: EI-GEO (01DJ18005)
Duration of the project: 01.09.2018 – 31.12.2020
Reporting period: 2019

The interim report should contain brief information on the following points / questions:

  1. List of the most important scientific and technical results and other significant events.

Project meeting in Riga (Latvia), 23.-25.04.2019
Participation in ERA-Net BalticLitter project meeting in Klaipeda 22.-23.05.2019 in Klaipeda (Lithuania)

Autoclave tests for artificial ageing have been performed with a geotextile (Secutex R601) at temperatures up to 80° C and 50 bar of oxygen pressure. The aged samples were tested regarding their mechanical (tensile strength etc.) and chemical properties (molar mass analyzed with size exclusion chromatography and stabilizer content with UV spectroscopy). With the results it is possible to calculate time to failure in geotechnical application using a modified Arrhenius model. The results showed that the acceleration factor for autoclave testing is 35. The time to reach an ageing status where the material has 60 % of the initial (mechanical) performance is 25 days storage in the autoclave at 30 bar O2 and 80° C, whereas under natural conditions (25° C, 0.21 bar O2) this would last 850 day. It is intended to publish the result in a journal on polymer testing.
A simple apparatus for testing aged samples under simulated wear has been constructed. Test series will follow.
Observation of pollution of coastline (145 km) of the Kaliningrad Oblast (South-Eastern Baltic) by debris of geosynthetic material was repeated. The coastal protection constructions which could be the sources of geosynthetic pollution were identified a t the eastern part of shoreline of Poland and Kaliningrad Oblast shore. Data is in processing and will be used for numerical model calibration.
Acute and chronic ecotoxicological tests on leachates from artificially aged geotextile (Secutex R601) were performed with algae Selenastrum capricornutum and amphipod Hyalella Azteca, while crustacean tests are still in progress. Microalgae growth rate inhibition was observed at the dilution of 25% of initial samples, while chronic amphipod test showed growth inhibition and mortality only at 85-89% dilution of samples. Final toxicity of samples will be estimated at the end of tests using all 4 organisms.

2. Comparison of the project status with the original working-, time- and cost planning. For 2019 the work progress was as scheduled. Due to Corona pandemic a dely is foreseen for 2020.)

3. Have the prospects for achieving the objectives of the project within the specified period changed from the original request (justification)?
-No

4. Are there any new R&D results from third parties relevant for the implementation of the project?

-Our project result were cited by a Chinese research group in a review: H. Wu, C. Yao, C. Li, M. Miao, Y. Zhong, Y. Lu and T. Liu, Review of Application and Innovation of Geotextiles in Geotechnical Engineering, Materials (Basel) 13(7) (2020)

5. Are there any changes in the objectives necessary?
-No

6. Annual update of the dissemination plan. This should, to the extent applicable in individual cases, provide information (business secrets do not need to be revealed):

  • Inventions / Intellectual Property Rights and Industrial Property Rights granted.

-No

  • Economic prospects of success after the end of the project (with a time horizon) – e.g. functional / economic advantages over competitive solutions, benefits for different user groups / industries in Germany, implementation and transfer strategies (details, as far as the nature of the project applicable).

-No

  • Scientific and / or technical chances of success after project end (with time horizon) – e.g. the planned results in other ways (e.g. for public tasks, databases, networks Transfer points etc.) can be used. It is also a possible cooperation with other institutions, companies, networks, research centers, etc.

– Synergy with BalticLitter project (see above), conference in 2020 are almost completely cancelled or postponed due to Corona pandemic, Round table to be organized on Geosynthetic Application in Marine Environment with participation of practitioners and other stakeholders (HELCOM etc.) in 22d Baltic Sea Day (March 2021).

  • Scientific and economic applicability for a possible necessary next phase or the next innovative steps to successfully implement the R&D results.

– Not relevant

Project EI-GEO Intermediate Report R2, Form 2 (April 2020)

All fields marked with * are mandatory for completing this form.

The objective of the intermediate report (R2) is to monitor first project results.

  • Describe briefly, your advancement with the implementation of your work-plan and which preliminary results have been achieved in your project *

(max 5000 char)

Autoclave tests for artificial ageing have been performed with a geotextile (Secutex R601) at temperatures up to 80° C and 50 bar of oxygen pressure. The aged samples were tested regarding their mechanical (tensile strength etc.) and chemical properties (molar mass analyzed with size exclusion chromatography and stabilizer content with UV spectroscopy). With the results it is possible to calculate time to failure in geotechnical application using a modified Arrhenius model. The results showed that the acceleration factor for autoclave testing is 35. The time to reach an ageing status where the material has 60 % of the initial (mechanical) performance is 25 days storage in the autoclave at 30 bar O2 and 80° C, whereas under natural conditions (25° C, 0.21 bar O2) this would last 850 day. It is intended to publish the result in a journal on polymer testing.
A simple apparatus for testing aged samples under simulated wear has been constructed. Test series will follow.
Observation of pollution of coastline (145 km) of the Kaliningrad Oblast (South-Eastern Baltic) by debris of geosynthetic material was repeated. The coastal protection constructions which could be the sources of geosynthetic pollution were identified a t the eastern part of shoreline of Poland and Kaliningrad Oblast shore. Data is in processing and will be used for numerical model calibration.
Acute and chronic ecotoxicological tests on leachates from artificially aged geotextile (Secutex R601) were performed with algae Selenastrum capricornutum and amphipod Hyalella Azteca, while crustacean tests are still in progress. Microalgae growth rate inhibition was observed at the dilution of 25% of initial samples, while chronic amphipod test showed growth inhibition and mortality only at 85-89% dilution of samples. Final toxicity of samples will be estimated at the end of tests using all 4 organisms.

  • Have you encountered significant non-scientific obstacles within the project consortium and/or among the project partners (e.g. administrative/legal hurdles, Intellectual Property (IP) disputes, miscommunication)? *

if yes, which (max 5000 char): yes

Due to the corona pandemic experimental work in in the participating laboratories (as well as data processing and modelling in Kaliningrad) might be delayed because home-office was encouraged by the management.

  • Number of joint publications (peer-reviewed): *

1: E.E. Esiukova, B. Chubarenko and F.-G. Simon, Debris of geosynthetic materials on the shore of the South-Eastern Baltic (Kaliningrad Oblast, the Russian Federation), in: A.J. Williams (Editor), 2018 IEEE/OES Baltic International Symposium (BALTIC), IEEE Xplore, New York, 2018, pp 1-6.

  • Number of joint publications (not peer-reviewed): *

 No

  • Number of patents/copyrights: *

 No

  • Number of conference contributions (oral/poster presentation): *

1: F.-G. Simon, B. Chubarenko and I. Purina, Approach for analysis of environmental impact of geosynthetics in aquatic systems by example of the Baltic Sea, 7th IEEE/OES Baltic Symposium, Clean and Safe Baltic Sea and Energy Security for the Baltic countries, Klaipeda, Litauen, 12.-15.06.2018, 2018.
2: Esiukova E.E., Kileso A.V., Chubarenko B.V., Pinchuk V.S. Geothyntetic debris on the beaches of Kaliningrad Oblast – result of systematic assessment of 2018. Book of abstracts of the Baltic Sea Science Congress (BSSC), Stockholm, 19-23 August 2019, Sweden. Stockholm, 2019. P. 138.
3: Sokolov A., Chubarenko I., Chubarenko B., Umgiesser G. Parametrization of coastal sources of geosynthetic pollution in the SHYFEM model based on the random walk algorithm. Book of abstracts of the Baltic Sea Science Congress (BSSC), Stockholm, 19-23 August 2019, Sweden. Stockholm, 2019. P. 163.

  • Does your consortium plan joint proposals for further cooperation? *

if yes, please describe (max 500 char)

Yes. The combination of materials testing, investigation of ecotoxicology and numerical modelling is an ideal basis for future projects. Details will be discussed in the course of the running project. At least mutual publications are planned for the next years.

  • Have any BSc/MSc diplomas or PhD theses been finished within the context of your project?*

if Yes, how many (max 500 char)

Pinchuk V.S. Pollution of the marine shore of the Kaliningrad Oblast by debrid of geosinthetic materials and its link with variability of hydrometeorological factors. BSc diploma. Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University (Kaliningrad, Russia) and Shirshov Institute of Oceanology of Russian Academy of Sciences, Atlantic Branch (Kaliningrad, Russia). 2020. The defense is scheduled for June 2020.

Results of the RFBR project 18-55-76002 in 2019-2020 (June 2020)

It was found that the threat of pollution by geosynthetic materials used in coastal protection facilities for the Southeast Baltic comes from 20 structures (total length 14 km) per 250 km of the eastern part of Poland and 16 structures (total length 7.6 km) per 150 km of coast Kaliningrad Oblast < Russia (Fig. 1)). In fact, the insignificant (from the engineering point of view) destruction was found in each structure in the Kaliningrad Oblast. And the “conflict situation” was again confirmed, when solving the problem of engineering protection of the shore, another problem is created – environmental pollution with synthetic residues.

Figure 1. Construction of a complex of coastal protection structures on the northern coast of the Sambia Peninsula, in the village of Kulikovo, (photo: E.M.Burnashova, March 2020)

In 2019, a repeated continuous survey of the coast of the Kaliningrad region was carried out to estimate the contamination of shore with fragments of geosynthetic materials used in coastal protection structures (gabion mesh braids, Dornit gasket material, geogrids and geocells). Although the results of 2019 are quantitatively different from those obtained in 2018, the proportions in the ratios of the number of finds between the listed above types of geosynthetic materials are preserved, as well as confinement to possible sources. All this makes it possible to interpret the results of the surveys of 2018 and 2019 as an assessment of possible variations in the quantity and characteristics of the remnants of geosynthetic materials in the coastal zone of the Kaliningrad Oblast. An analysis of the contamination of beaches adjacent to the Kaliningrad Oblast showed that fragments of geosynthetic materials are distributed throughout the Curonian Spit and are found further north along the coast of Lithuania up to Palanga. Pollution from sources in the Kaliningrad Oblast has not yet affected the adjacent territory of Poland.

The preliminary analysis was made for the mechanical properties of geomats (Fig. 2) used in the largest facility on the coast of the Kaliningrad Region – a complex of engineering slope strengthening in the city of Svetlogorsk with a total area of 90 thousand m2. Samples that present the material existed in different operating conditions for (2-4 years) do not degrade in the same way – maximum tensile stresses drop by almost 2 times compared to the reference (fresh) sample, and deformations (before rupture) decrease by 4-8 times, those, the material becomes significantly more fragile.

To analyze the simulation of the transport of the fragments of geosynthetic materials within the framework of the Lagrange and Euler approaches, the numerical modeling of passive admixtures and particles of neutral buoyancy, which are gabion braids, is carried out. To mitigate the temporal variability, model calculations were carried out for 2014-2018, and their temporary averaging is performed. The averaged alongshore distribution turned out to be very similar to that obtained from field measurements in 2018.

Instead of calculating the detailed process of moving, depositing, washing off and redepositing fragments from a point source, the possibility to immediately go to the result of such modeling based on the concept of “secondary distributed source” whose parameters (calibration) are determined on the basis of field survey data. It turned out that the proposed model of “secondary distributed source”, especially when using the generalized Pareto distribution, satisfactorily describes the average distribution of pollution concentration over the coast over several years. The specific values of the distribution parameters were obtained according to the 2018 survey data, i.e. proposed dependencies were calibrated using experimental data.

Test calculations of the Lagrangian transport of neutral buoyancy fragments (such as gabion braids) were performed. The resulting trajectory pictures (Fig. 3) for 2014-2018 showed that the situation is changing quite a lot from year to year. For 2014, 2015, and 2107, the effect of tracer transfer along the shore to the north, typical of the South-Eastern Baltic, is pronounced. At the same time, in 2018 there is an active spread of particles towards the Gulf of Gdansk and further to the west. Model calculations showed that tracers can penetrate not only the Gulf of Riga, but also get to the entrance to the Gulf of Finland (2014, 2015), which illustrates the possible scale of annual distribution.

It is also noteworthy that the propagation of passive particles toward the center of the Baltic Sea occurred in the model only in the deep rather than surface layers, which indicates the water exchange between the coastal zone and the open Baltic waters is held according to the “surge” type – the inflow towards the shore along the surface, and outflow via the deep layers.

Figure 3. Model trajectories of tracers for 2014. The square denotes the final position of the tracer, and its color corresponds to the final depth (modeling – A.N.Sokolov, B.V. Chubarenko).

Fragments of geosynthetic materials, falling into the marine environment, become a source of microplastic particles (MP). To study the possibilities of applying the stochastic approach to the description of the dynamics of MP particles in a liquid, a computer model was developed in which the terminal velocity of a MP particle was considered as a random variable, which, in turn, is a function of both other random variables – particle parameters and properties of the particles liquids, which, based on the formulation of the terminal velocity problem, are considered constant. The model turned out to be quite simple to implement, although expensive in computational terms. Comparison of the obtained distributions with laboratory measurements demonstrated the adequacy of the chosen approach. A nonmonotonic (several peaks or the presence of “bumps”) distribution of the terminal velocity of three-dimensional fragments of a MP is obtained (due to a nonlinear combination of terminal velocity distributions by size, density and shape of particles).

According to the results of the second stage of the project (2019-2020), 2 full articles in the proceedings of the conference, which are indexed in WoS, were published. There were 5 abstracts in the conference proceedings published. One article has been prepared and is at the stage of responding to comments from reviewers in a journal of the Q1 level (Marine Pollution Bulletin), as well as abstracts have been prepared for an international conference. In three publications, foreign participants are also the authors

Project EI-GEO Final Report (R3)(September 2021)