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J Acoust Soc Am. 2018 Feb;143(2):1223. doi: 10.1121/1.5025042.

A deep ocean acoustic noise floor, 1-800 Hz.

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University of California San Diego SIO-IGPP, 9500 Gilman Drive, Mail Code 0225, La Jolla, California 92093-0225, USA.
European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, Reading, England.
Del Mar, California 92014, USA.
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, Massachusetts 02543, USA.


The ocean acoustic noise floor (observed when the overhead wind is low, ships are distant, and marine life silent) has been measured on an array extending up 987 m from 5048 m depth in the eastern North Pacific, in what is one of only a few recent measurements of the vertical noise distribution near the seafloor in the deep ocean. The floor is roughly independent of depth for 1-6 Hz, and the slope (∼ f-7) is consistent with Longuet-Higgins radiation from oppositely-directed surface waves. Above 6 Hz, the acoustic floor increases with frequency due to distant shipping before falling as ∼ f-2 from 40 to 800 Hz. The noise floor just above the seafloor is only about 5 dB greater than during the 1975 CHURCH OPAL experiment (50-200 Hz), even though these measurements are not subject to the same bathymetric blockage. The floor increases up the array by roughly 15 dB for 40-500 Hz. Immediately above the seafloor, the acoustic energy is concentrated in a narrow, horizontal beam that narrows as f-1 and has a beam width at 75 Hz that is less than the array resolution. The power in the beam falls more steeply with frequency than the omnidirectional spectrum.


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