Utilizing the R/V Marcus G. Langseth’s streamer to measure the acoustic radiation of its seismic source in the shallow waters of New Jersey’s continental shelf

Crone, Timothy J.; Tolstoy, Maya; Gibson, James; Mountain, Gregory S.

Shallow water marine seismic surveys are necessary to understand a range of Earth processes in coastal environments, including those that represent major hazards to society such as earthquakes, tsunamis, and sea-level rise. Predicting the acoustic radiation of seismic sources in shallow water, which is required for compliance with regulations designed to limit impacts on protected marine species, is a significant challenge in this environment because of variable reflectivity due to local geology, and the susceptibility of relatively small bathymetric features to focus or shadow acoustic energy. We use data from the R/V Marcus G. Langseth’s towed hydrophone streamer to estimate the acoustic radiation of the ship’s seismic source during a large survey of the shallow shelf off the coast of New Jersey. We use the results to estimate the distances from the source to acoustic levels of regulatory significance, and use bathymetric data from the ship’s multibeam system to explore the relationships between seafloor depth and slope and the measured acoustic radiation patterns. We demonstrate that existing models significantly overestimate mitigation radii, but that the variability of received levels in shallow water suggest that in situ real-time measurements would help improve these estimates, and that post-cruise revisions of received levels are valuable in accurately determining the potential acoustic impact of a seismic survey.

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Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Marine Geology and Geophysics
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October 5, 2017