Wolf Rock lighthouse: Past developments and future survivability under wave loading

A. C. Raby, A. Antonini, A. Pappas, D. T. Dassanayake, J. M.W. Brownjohn, D. D'Ayala

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
46 Downloads (Pure)


Lighthouses situated on exposed rocky outcrops warn mariners of the dangers that lurk beneath the waves. They were first constructed when approaches to wave loading and structural response were relatively unsophisticated, essentially learning from previous failures. Here, we chart the evolution of lighthouses on the Wolf Rock, situated between Land's End and the Isles of Scilly in the UK. The first empirical approaches are described, followed by design aspects of the present tower, informed by innovations developed on other rocky outcrops. We focus on a particular development associated with the automation of lighthouses: the helideck platform. The design concept is described and the structure then scrutinized for future survivability, using the latest structural modelling techniques of the entire lighthouse and helideck. Model validation data were obtained through a complex logistical field operation and experimental modal analysis. Extreme wave loading for the model required the identification of the 250-year return period wave using a Bayesian method with informative prior distributions, for two different scenarios (2017 and 2067). The structural models predict responses of the helideck to wave loading which is characterized by differential displacements of 0.093m (2017) and 0.115m (2067) with associated high tension forces and plastic strain.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20190027
Number of pages28
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences
Issue number2155
Publication statusPublished - 7 Oct 2019


  • Lighthouses
  • Modal testing
  • Structural response
  • Wave loading
  • Wave statistics

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