Discrimination between discrete and continuum scattering from the sub-seafloor

Charles W. Holland, Gavin Steininger, Stan E. Dosso

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


There is growing evidence that seabed scattering is often dominated by heterogeneities within the sediment volume as opposed to seafloor roughness. From a theoretical viewpoint, sediment volume heterogeneities can be described either by a fluctuation continuum or by discrete particles. In at-sea experiments, heterogeneity characteristics generally are not known a priori. Thus, an uninformed model selection is generally made, i.e., the researcher must arbitrarily select either a discrete or continuum model. It is shown here that it is possible to (acoustically) discriminate between continuum and discrete heterogeneities in some instances. For example, when the spectral exponent γ3>4, the volume scattering cannot be described by discrete particles. Conversely, when γ3≤2, the heterogeneities likely arise from discrete particles. Furthermore, in the range 2<γ3≤4 it is sometimes possible to discriminate via physical bounds on the parameter values. The ability to so discriminate is important, because there are few tools for measuring small scale, O(10-2 to 101) m, sediment heterogeneities over large areas. Therefore, discriminating discrete vs continuum heterogeneities via acoustic remote sensing may lead to improved observations and concomitant increased understanding of the marine benthic environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)663-673
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics


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