The purpose of this study is to perform a numerical simulation of caisson breakwater stability concerning the effect of wave overtopping under extreme waves. A numerical model, which solves two-dimensional Reynolds-averaged Navier–Stokes equations with the k−ε turbulence closure and uses the volume of fluid method for surface capturing, is validated with the laboratory observations. The numerical model is shown to accurately predict the measured free-surface profiles and the wave pressures around a caisson breakwater. Considering the dynamic loading on caisson breakwaters during overtopping waves, not only landward force and lift force but also the seaward force are calculated. Model results suggest that the forces induced by the wave overtopping on the back side of vertical breakwater and the phase lag of surface elevations have to be considered for calculating the breakwater stability. The numerical results also show that the failure of sliding is more dangerous than the failure of overturning in the vertical breakwater. Under extreme waves with more than 100 year return period, the caisson breakwater is sliding unstable, whereas it is safe in overturning stability. The influence of wave overtopping on the stability analysis is dominated by the force on the rear side of the caisson and the phase difference on the two ends of caisson. For the case of extreme conditions, if the impulse force happens at the moment of the minimum of load in the rear side, the safety factor might decrease significantly and the failure of sliding might cause breakwater damage. This paper demonstrates the potential stability failure of coastal structures under extreme sea states and provides adapted formulations of safety factors in dynamic form to involve the influence of overtopping waves.
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