The capabilities and diversity of subsurface sediment sensors lags significantly from what is available for the water column, thereby limiting progress in understanding time-dependent seabed exchange and high-frequency acoustics. To help redress this imbalance, a new instrument, the autonomous sediment profiler (ASP), is described herein. ASP consists of a four-electrode, Wenner-type resistivity probe and a thermistor that log data at 0.1-cm vertical intervals over a 58-cm vertical profile. To avoid resampling the same spot on the seafloor, the probes are moved horizontally within a 20 times 100-cm-2 area in one of three preselected patterns. Memory and power capacities permit sampling at hourly intervals for up to 3-mo duration. The system was tested in a laboratory tank and shown to be able to resolve high-frequency sediment consolidation, as well as changes in sediment roughness. In a field test off the southern coast of France, the system collected resistivity and temperature data at hourly intervals for 16 d. Coupled with environmental data collected on waves, currents, and suspended sediment, the ASP is shown to be useful for understanding temporal evolution of subsurface sediment porosity, although no large depositional or erosional events occurred during the deployment. Following a rapid decrease in bottom-water temperature, the evolution of the subsurface temperature field was consistent with the 1-D thermal diffusion equation coupled with advection in the upper 3-4 cm. Collectively, the laboratory and field tests yielded promising results on time-dependent seabed change.
Additional publication details
In situ time-series measurements of subseafloor sediment properties