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Listening for ocean spills and their ecological effects
Date:11/16/2010

structure.

Badiey and this team have spent years studying the structure of the ocean near the continental shelf using sound sources and receivers -- ships and moored points that broadcast sound and arrays of sensors in shallow waters that detect the refraction patterns of this sound. Their recent findings reveal that the three-dimensional nature of sound propagation can be used to detect the boundaries of fluids with different indexes of sound refraction.

"This is a rather unusual approach for ocean acoustics," said Lynch. "For almost a century, almost all work has been 2-D slices of sound."

Any kind of stratified front -- gradients of temperature or density -- can cause interferences and perturbations in this sound. Measurements of these interference patterns have recently revealed information about propagating internal waves on the New Jersey continental shelf.

Their preliminary theoretical calculations give them hope that this technique could be adapted to detect oil spills and other liquids in large-scale areas of water up to few thousand square kilometers on the oceanic shelf.


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Contact: Jason Socrates Bardi
jbardi@aip.org
301-209-3091
American Institute of Physics
Source:Eurekalert

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