An analytical nonlinear theory is presented for the interaction between three-dimensional sea wave groups and a seawall during the occurrence of an exceptionally high crest or deep trough of the water elevation. The solution to the second order of the free surface displacement and of the velocity potential is derived by considering an irrotational, inviscid, incompressible flow bounded by a horizontal seabed and a vertical impermeable seawall. The analytical expression of the nonlinear wave pressure is derived. The resulting theory is able to fully describe the mechanics at the seawall and in front of it, which represents a strongly nonhomogeneous wave field, then demonstrating that it is influenced by characteristic parameters and wave conditions. The theoretical results are in good agreement with measurements carried out during a small-scale field experiment at the Natural Ocean Engineering Laboratory in Reggio Calabria (Italy). The theoretical and experimental comparisons show that some distinctive phenomena regarding wave pressures of very high standing wave groups at a seawall, in the absence of either overturning or breaking waves, may be associated with nonlinear effects.
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