Stratigraphic model predictions of geoacoustic properties

Barbara J. Kraft, Irina Overeem, Charles W. Holland, Lincoln F. Pratson, James P.M. Syvitski, Larry A. Mayer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Geoacoustic properties of the seabed have a controlling role in the propagation and reverberation of sound in shallow-water environments. Several techniques are available to quantify the important properties but are usually unable to adequately sample the region of interest. In this paper, we explore the potential for obtaining geotechnical properties from a process-based stratigraphic model. Grain-size predictions from the stratigraphic model are combined with two acoustic models to estimate sound speed with distance across the New Jersey continental shelf and with depth below the seabed. Model predictions are compared to two independent sets of data: 1) Surficial sound speeds obtained through direct measurement using in situ compressional wave probes, and 2) sound speed as a function of depth obtained through inversion of seabed reflection measurements. In water depths less than 100 m, the model predictions produce a trend of decreasing grain-size and sound speed with increasing water depth as similarly observed in the measured surficial data. In water depths between 100 and 130 m, the model predictions exhibit an increase in sound speed that was not observed in the measured surficial data. A closer comparison indicates that the grain-sizes predicted for the surficial sediments are generally too small producing sound speeds that are too slow. The predicted sound speeds also tend to be too slow for sediments 0.5-20 m below the seabed in water depths greater than 100 m. However, in water depths less than 100 m, the sound speeds between 0.5-20-m subbottom depth are generally too fast. There are several reasons for the discrepancies including the stratigraphic model was limited to two dimensions, the model was unable to simulate biologic processes responsible for the high sound-speed shell material common in the model area, and incomplete geological records necessary to accurately predict grain-size.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)266-283
Number of pages18
JournalIEEE Journal of Oceanic Engineering
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ocean Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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