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Mar Pollut Bull. 2013 May 15;70(1-2):140-6. doi: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2013.02.025. Epub 2013 Mar 13.

Estimating sub-surface dispersed oil concentration using acoustic backscatter response.

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  • 1Civil and Environmental Engineering, Clarkson University, 8 Clarkson Ave., Potsdam, NY 13699, USA.


The recent Deepwater Horizon disaster resulted in a dispersed oil plume at an approximate depth of 1000 m. Several methods were used to characterize this plume with respect to concentration and spatial extent including surface supported sampling and autonomous underwater vehicles with in situ instrument payloads. Additionally, echo sounders were used to track the plume location, demonstrating the potential for remote detection using acoustic backscatter (ABS). This study evaluated use of an Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP) to quantitatively detect oil-droplet suspensions from the ABS response in a controlled laboratory setting. Results from this study showed log-linear ABS responses to oil-droplet volume concentration. However, the inability to reproduce ABS response factors suggests the difficultly in developing meaningful calibration factors for quantitative field analysis. Evaluation of theoretical ABS intensity derived from the particle size distribution provided insight regarding method sensitivity in the presence of interfering ambient particles.

Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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