In situ acoustic and laboratory ultrasonic sound speed and attenuation measured in heterogeneous soft seabed sediments: Eel River shelf, California

Marine Geology

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DOI: 10.1016/S0025-3227(01)00230-4



We compared in situ and laboratory velocity and attenuation values measured in seafloor sediments from the shallow water delta of the Eel River, California. This region receives a substantial volume of fluvial sediment that is discharged annually onto the shelf. Additionally, a high input of fluvial sediments during storms generates flood deposits that are characterized by thin beds of variable grain-sizes between the 40- and 90-m isobaths. The main objectives of this study were (1) to investigate signatures of seafloor processes on geoacoustic and physical properties, and (2) to evaluate differences between geoacoustic parameters measured in situ at acoustic (7.5 kHz) and in the laboratory at ultrasonic (400 kHz) frequencies. The in situ acoustic measurements were conducted between 60 and 100 m of water depth. Wet-bulk density and porosity profiles were obtained to 1.15 m below seafloor (m bsf) using gravity cores of the mostly cohesive fine-grained sediments across- and along-shelf. Physical and geoacoustic properties from six selected sites obtained on the Eel margin revealed the following. (1) Sound speed and wet-bulk density strongly correlated in most cases. (2) Sediment compaction with depth generally led to increased sound speed and density, while porosity and in situ attenuation values decreased. (3) Sound speed was higher in coarser- than in finer-grained sediments, on a maximum average by 80 m s-1. (4) In coarse-grained sediments sound speed was higher in the laboratory (1560 m s-1) than in situ (1520 m s-1). In contrast, average ultrasonic and in situ sound speed in fine-grained sediments showed only little differences (both approximately 1480 m s-1). (5) Greater attenuation was commonly measured in the laboratory (0.4 and 0.8 dB m-1 kHz-1) than in situ (0.02 and 0.65 dB m-1 kHz-1), and remained almost constant below 0.4 m bsf. We attributed discrepancies between laboratory ultrasonic and in situ acoustic measurements to a frequency dependence of velocity and attenuation. In addition, laboratory attenuation was most likely enhanced due to scattering of sound waves at heterogeneities that were on the scale of ultrasonic wavelengths. In contrast, high in situ attenuation values were linked to stratigraphic scattering at thin-bed layers that form along with flood deposits. ?? 2002 Published by Elsevier Science B.V.

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In situ acoustic and laboratory ultrasonic sound speed and attenuation measured in heterogeneous soft seabed sediments: Eel River shelf, California
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Marine Geology
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Marine Geology
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