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'Artist impression' of Leffinge before the diking (10th century AD), © Middelkerke

5000 years of coastal evolution

The Flemish coast has a long and complex history. The modern landscape is the result of the interaction between both natural processes and human interventions. Although research into the history of this region has already provided us with a lot of information, many detailed questions still remain, for example, exactly how the coastline evolved over the past 5000 years.

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The Testerep project


Gain insight into how our coastline has evolved over the past 5000 years, through state of the art interdisciplinary scientific research

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With the use of computer modeling, we'll resurrect Testerep and learn about the human and natural impact on the landscape.

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Who are our stakeholders? How will they apply our research results? Which valorization projects are planned?

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Testerep offshore winter survey

From 6-10 March 2023, the TESTEREP team joined forces with our colleagues of the SUSANA team. Both projects require vibrocore samples to be taken and seismic data to be acquired across the Belgian Continental Shelf, so we decided to help each other in an attempt to be more efficient. Unlike our previous coring surveys, when we were blessed with calm seas and blue skies, this survey proved somewhat more challenging. We even had some snow! Nevertheless, we successfully managed to deploy our new vibrocoring system and have added 11 new vibrocores to the TESTEREP archive.

Learn how scientists collect vibrocores at sea

More images of the survey


Living Lab Raversijde unveiled

On February 1, 2023, it was 70 years ago that the North Sea coasts of Belgium, the United Kingdom and especially the Netherlands were ravaged by the major flood disaster of 1953. In the search for better coastal protection measures that ensued, a new chapter is now being written for the Belgian coast with the official start of Living Lab Raversijde. Using a research dike that measures wave overtopping and a test setup with dunes in front of the dike, data are being collected on the beach at Raversijde to make our coastal defenses more efficient in the future. Testerep project partners VLIZ, Flanders Hydraulics Research and KU Leuven are also involved in the project.

The North Sea flood of 1953 in color

The launch of Living Lab Raversijde


Dating Testerep with the use of OSL

A crucial element for retracing the Testerep story is obtaining accurate dates for different phases in the evolution of the coastal landscape. One of the state-of-the-art techniques we are using to shed light on this matter is the dating and profiling of sediment samples with Optically Stimulated Luminescence or OSL. Expert dr. Tim Kinnaird from the University of St Andrews in Scotland visited VLIZ on 26 and 27 January to sample and analyze marine cores from the Stroombank with a portable OSL device. Because the samples had to stay shielded from daylight, the research was carried out in a WWII bunker, specifically adapted for this purpose.

Read more about OSL