Acoustic measurements of marine sediments with pebbles and cobbles

Charles W. Holland, Jan Dettmer, Gavin Steininger, Stan E. Dosso, Allen Lowrie

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The majority of sediment acoustics research has focused to date on sediments with sand-sized particles or smaller; measurements for sediments containing cobbles (6–26 cm) are rare. This paper presents the first measurements (to the authors’ knowledge) over a wide frequency range of compressional-wave velocity and bulk density for a sediment with cobbles. The in situ velocity from inversion from wide-angle reflection-coefficient data at 0.4–2 kHz for cobbles suspended in sand is found here to be 1800 m/s with 95% credibility interval bounds of [1787–1828] m/s and for cobbles suspended in clay 1532 [1528–1536] m/s. Measured core velocities at 50 kHz and 200 kHz are lower for each sediment due to multiple scattering. The in situ bulk density for cobbles suspended in sand is 2.25 [2.21–2.28] g/cm3 and for cobbles suspended in clay 1.83 [1.78–1.87] g/cm3. Though cobbles in the upper few metres of sediment may be considered unusual on the mid-shelf at mid-latitudes, they appear to be present over tens of square kilometres on the Malta Plateau in a several metre thick layer starting at about 1 m below seafloor. In fact, geologic process considerations suggest that cobbles may be generally more common in mid to outer shelf environments than the paucity of measurements would suggest. Increased interest in the Arctic continental shelf environment, where pebbles and cobbles are expected to be prevalent, provides an additional motivation for this work.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-22
Number of pages18
JournalNear Surface Geophysics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics


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