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UNF faculty work to stabilize Northeast Florida coastlines with geomicrobe soil

A group of University of North Florida engineering and biology faculty are working on an innovative project to help stabilize eroding Northeast Florida coastlines using geomicrobes. UNF is one of only a few research groups around the globe looking at this solution to strength stabilization for coastal erosion.

Microbially induced calcite precipitation (MICP) is a new, ecologically friendly alternative for soil strengthening and improvement. Preliminary results of this technology show that MICP improves erosion resistance.

The UNF research team is now beginning a thorough evaluation of MICP’s effectiveness to determine if this new technology can be upscaled for use in stabilizing eroding shorelines.

The project will aim to characterize the mechanisms associated with calcium carbonate precipitation in the context of soil erosion by running tests to track soil penetration and enzyme production, using specialized erosion rate testing equipment to quantify erodibility, and analyzing the morphological properties’ effects on erosion performance.

The faculty team includes Dr. Raphael Crowley, associate professor of coastal and port engineering at UNF’s Taylor Engineering Research Institute; Dr. Terri Ellis, biology associate professor; and Dr. Brian Wingender, researcher at UNF’s Materials Science and Engineering Research Facility. Student researchers include Abby Chek and Michael Durnin, who recently cowrote a paper with the faculty that was published in the Journal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering. Another researcher Justin Mulloney, an engineering graduate student and US Navy Lieutenant, is part of the Navy’s Ocean Facilities Program and plans to teach coastal and ocean engineering classes at the Naval Academy in Annapolis after graduation.