High-five! Dutch scientists build world's biggest tsunami machine (VIDEO)

© Deltaresfilm
Dutch scientists have created the world’s biggest human-made wave generator. The Delta Flume can send waves 5 meters high, crashing down a 300-meter long, 9.5-meter deep channel.

The monster machine wasn't designed to help surfers catch bigger waves, but to enhance safety against floods in the Netherlands, where half of the country’s population lives below sea level on reclaimed land.

“Here we can test what happens if enormous waves hit our dykes,” Dutch Infrastructure Minister Melanie Schultz van Haegen said as she inaugurated the giant wave machine in the city of Delft. “The water and its logistics are those sectors for which the Netherlands is known around the world.”

It took Dutch engineers three years to build the Delta Flume. Waves this big haven’t been generated anywhere else in the world, researchers said.

This is how it works: Four powerful pistons behind a seven-meter high metal shield push 9 million liters of freshwater down the channel at a speed of 1,000 liters a second. The challenge is to simulate the power of the oceans. It's possible not only to generate high waves, but to simulate variations in the water level of the kind caused by storm surges and tides. According to researchers, it's important for studies of dike revetments.

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“Safety against floods is one of the main issues here in the Netherlands, so we want to test the [dikes] and the dunes,” Bas Hofland, an expert in coastal defenses, told AFP.

“It is not possible to make it at a small scale, so we must have real life-scale [dikes] and dunes,” he said.