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"Paardenmarkt" site evaluation

More:  Institutes | Publications 
Parent project: Research action SPSD-I: Sustainable management of the North Sea, more
Reference no: MN/DD2/006
Period: September 1999 till August 2001
Status: Completed

Thesaurus terms: Dumping grounds; Ecology; Geophysics; Offshore; Rehabilitation; Rehabilitation
Geographical term: ANE, Belgium, East Coast, Paardenmarkt [Marine Regions]

Institutes (8)  Top | Publications 
  • Universiteit Gent; Faculteit Wetenschappen; Vakgroep Geologie en Bodemkunde; Renard Centre of Marine Geology (RCMG), more, co-ordinator
  • Marine Geological Assistance NV (Magelas), more, partner
  • G-TEC NV, more, partner
  • Instituut voor Natuurbehoud (IN), more, partner
  • Universiteit Gent; Faculteit Wetenschappen; Vakgroep Biologie; Onderzoeksgroep Mariene Biologie (MARBIOL), more, partner
  • TNO Prins Maurits Laboratory, more, partner
  • Universiteit Gent; Faculteit Ingenieurswetenschappen; Vakgroep Civiele Techniek; Laboratorium voor Hydraulica, more, partner
  • Université Aix-Marseille III; Centre Européen de Recherche et d'Enseignement des Géosciences de l'Environnement (CEREGE), more, partner


After WW1 a considerable amount of war material has been dumped on a shallow sand flat, called "Paardenmarkt", offshore Heist, a few kilometres east of the port of Zeebrugge. The dump site extends over 3 km²; on hydrographic maps it is indicated with a pentagon where neither fishing nor anchoring is allowed by law. The Paardenmarkt has been for years a point of major concern, questions and incertitudes and calls for a detailed and thorough evaluation.
In the past, geophysical "remote-sensing" techniques have been applied to evaluate the extent of the dumped material, with encouraging results. However, the complexity of the question requires an integrated, multi-disciplinary approach blending geophysical, geochemical, biochemical, biological, civil engineering, ecological and economical expertise. Such integrated approach will yield an improved insight in the site, its ecosystem and its potential risks for the shoreline population and the users of the sea.


- Detailed synthesis, analysis and scientific evaluation of all available data related to the study area, in order to make a correct evaluation of the actual dimension of the encountered problems.

- Analysis of possible strategies of scientific research, not only with respect to the characterisation of the buried objects but also to the natural setting of the site (more specific the occurrence of gases, biogenic and/or toxic), and the possible perspectives for continuous monitoring of the area.

- Re-evaluation of the present-day ‘status quo’ policy and the evaluation of different options for possible engineering solutions, which includes the possibility to turn the waste disposal site into a nature conservation area.

- Evaluation of possible strategies related to communication and information transfer in order to meet public concern, in due consultation with the authorities.

- Dissemination and integration into a wider European expertise through project proposals, workshops, and the exchange of logistical, technical and scientific expertise at international level.

Main deliverables expected

- Historical / scientific database of the dump site.
- Strategy for geological, sedimentological, geochemical and biological research and monitoring.
- Estimation of the possible environmental effects of the present situation.
- A list of possible engineering and management options (including rehabilitation into nature conservation area).
- Information brochure for the general public stating the general problem.

Project Partners

A wide expertise has been gathered in the following project group : Renard Centre of Marine Geology (RCMG) - UG (co-ordinator); consulting office Magelas; consulting office G-Tec; TNO Prins Maurits Laboratory (TNO-PML); CEREGE - Université Aix-Marseille III; Marine Biology - UG; Civil Engineering - UG; Institute for Nature Conservation (INC). The participation of the foreign partners (The Netherlands, France) supports an early international approach for such border-transgressing problem.
RCMG, Magelas and G-Tec co-operate closely in the evaluation of optimal strategies for geophysical and geochemical research and monitoring programmes. The Marine Biology group and INC focus on the analysis of different monitoring options for benthos, sea birds and mammals in the study area. CEREGE and TNO-PML are involved in the evaluation and simulation of the migration of gas and pollutants at the site. The Civil Engineering group, RCMG, TNO-PML and INC work together closely on the different aspects of risk evaluation and rehabilitation of the study site.

- The project co-ordinator, the Renard Centre of Marine Geology (RCMG) (Department of Geology and Soil Sciences) of the University of Gent, has 20 years experience in reflection seismic and geophysic surveying. RGMG has built an international reputation in the design and application of original very high-resolution seismic techniques in the marine environment. The flexibility of the portable systems allows world-wide operations on a variety of vessels. Research areas include the North Sea, the North Atlantic, Alpine lakes, African and Central Asian rift lakes, rivers and canals.

- Consultancy office Magelas is specialized in sediment dynamic and morphodynamic research, focused on various geophysical measurements (side-scan sonar, multibeam bathymetry, ...). All data acquisition and interpretation is performed in-house.

- Consultancy office G-Tec is specialized in electromagnetic and magnetic geophysical exploration for geotechnical, environmental and mining applications. The detection of Unexploded Ordnance (UXO), onshore and offshore, as well as wrecks has been a major activity for the last number of years.

- TNO Prins Maurits Laboratory has an outstanding expertise in chemical warfare agents, munition technology and explosion safety, and platform technology. To this end it has unique experimental research facilities, including a well-instrumented rocket test stand, laboratories for ballistic and pyrotechnic research and an advanced chemical laboratory for extremely toxic substances.

- The department of geophysics at the University of Aix-Marseille III is specialised in the analysis of fluid and gas migration in sediments, based on experimental data (downhole, core, seismic/acoustic, resistivity, multi-sensor) as well as on theoretical studies (multiphase calculations, numerical modelling).

- The Marine Biology Section (Department of Biology) of the University of Gent is specialized in the ecology and the systematics of the benthos of the North Sea. Beside this research it is also active in the assessment of sedimentological and chemical environmental parameters and experiments with radioactive labelling and microcosmos.

- The division of Coastal Engineering (Department of Civil Engineering) of the University of Gent has been active for many years in coastal protection and construction, a.o. soil mechanics for harbour dams, offshore and hydraulic structures, etc. Research has been focused on the geological as well as the hydrodynamical aspects (currents and waves) involved.

- The Institute for Nature Conservation is specialised in ecological research focused on integrated coastal and aquatic management. It participates in an active way in the development of an ecosystem vision for the Flemish coast. Expertise is present in the field of inventories, feeding ecology and breeding biology of seabirds.

Publications (2)  Top | Institutes 
  • Missiaen, T.; Henriet, J.-P.; Paardenmarkt Project Team (2002). Paardenmarkt site evaluation. Scientific Support Plan for a Sustainable Development Policy (SPSD I): Programme "Sustainable Management of the North Sea" = Plan voor wetenschappelijke ondersteuning van een beleid gericht op duurzame ontwikkeling (PODO I): Programma "Duurzaam beheer van de Noordzee". Federaal Wetenschapsbeleid = Belgian Science Policy = Politique Scientifique Fédérale: Brussel. 184 pp., more
  • Missiaen, T.; Henriet, J.-P. (2002). Paardenmarkt site evaluation: summary = Evaluatie van de Paardenmarkt site: samenvatting = Evaluation du site Paardenmarkt: résumé, in: Missiaen, T. et al. (2002). Paardenmarkt site evaluation. Scientific Support Plan for a Sustainable Development Policy (SPSD I): Programme "Sustainable Management of the North Sea" = Plan voor wetenschappelijke ondersteuning van een beleid gericht op duurzame ontwikkeling (PODO I): Programma "Duurzaam beheer van de Noordzee", : pp. 1-10, more

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