The use of coal fly ash in concrete for marine artificial reefs in the southeastern Mediterranean: Compressive strength, sessile biota, and chemical composition

N. Kress, M. Tom, E. Spanier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To examine the possible use of coal fly ash (CFA) in concrete for artificial reefs, blocks containing 0%, 40%, 60%, and 80% CFA as a substitute for sand were deployed in the Mediterranean at 18.5-m depth off the coast of Israel during a period of 33 months. Changes in compressive strength, composition, and coverage of sessile biota species, as well as in trace element concentration of the block surface and in sessile biota from four taxonomic groups, were determined as a function of time at sea and block type. Compressive strength clearly increased with time in all types to values well above the minimal strength considered necessary for stability of the blocks at sea. Moreover, the 40% and 60% CFA blocks were 1.5 times stronger than the 0% and 80% ones. Main sessile taxa recorded were filamentous green algae, bryozoa, barnacles, serpulid polychaeta, hydrozoa, and bivalves. Number of species settled and biotic coverage varied among block side and seasonally, but did not differ significantly between block types. The initial heavy metal composition (Hg, Cd, Pb, Cu, Zn, Cr, Mn, Fe, Al) of the block material was directly proportional to the CFA percentage. At the end of the study, Pb had decreased in all types, Cd in the 60% CFA block, and Fe and Al in the 40% and 60% blocks, while Mn had increased in the blocks with 0% and 80% CFA. After 21 months at sea, the only detectable change was a decrease in Pb concentration in all types, indicating that changes may be due to long-term processes. Trace metal levels (Hg, Cd, Zn, Mn, Cu, Fe, and Al) were measured in the sessile biota (hydrozoa, polychaeta, and bivalvia). In most cases, no dependence was found between metal levels and time at sea or CFA content of the blocks. In the hydroid, metal concentration even decreased over time.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S231-S237
JournalICES Journal of Marine Science
Issue numberSUPPL.
StatePublished - Oct 2002

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Steve and Avinoam Breitstein, Amir Yurman, Yossi Tur-Caspa, Guy Shahaf, Yaron Gertner, Dr Kari Lavalli, and other volunteer divers for their invaluable assistance in the underwater operation. We acknowledge the help of Anat Glazer, Dr Nekhama Ben-Eliyahu, and Dr Jean-loup (Lab. Biol. invert. Marc. Malacol., Musée National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris) in species identification, Mikha Dadon in photography, and Irena Pikerski in the image analysis. We appreciate the work of E. Shoam-Frider, H. Hornung, and G. Feinshtein in metal analysis. The study was supported by a grant from the Israel Electricity Corporation.


  • Artificial reef
  • Biotic coverage
  • Coal fly ash
  • Compressive strength
  • Sessile biota
  • Southeastern Mediterranean
  • Species composition
  • Stabilization
  • Trace metal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology


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