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The primary function of dikes is to protect low-lying, coastal areas from sea inundation under extreme conditions (Pilarczyk 1998a). Dikes have a high volume that helps to resist water pressure, sloping sides to reduce wave loadings, and crest at heights sufficient to prevent overtopping by floodwaters. Dikes are made predominantly from earth, and consist of a sand core, watertight outer protection layer, toe protection and a drainage channel.
Dikes are widely used to protect low-lying coastal areas and play a critical role in preventing inundation of large land areas. However, they are not intended to preserve adjoining unprotected beaches or those in front of the structure.