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Seismic and Biological Sources of Ambient Ocean Sound /


Sound is the most efficient radiation in the ocean. Sounds of seismic and biological origin contain information regarding the underlying processes that created them. A single hydrophone records summary time-frequency information from the volume within acoustic range. Beamforming using a hydrophone array additionally produces azimuthal estimates of sound sources. A two-dimensional array and acoustic focusing produce an unambiguous two- dimensional `image' of sources. This dissertation describes the application of these techniques in three cases. The first utilizes hydrophone arrays to investigate T-phases (water-borne seismic waves) in the Philippine Sea. Ninety T-phases were recorded over a 12-day period, implying a greater number of seismic events occur than are detected by terrestrial seismic monitoring in the region. Observation of an azimuthally migrating T-phase suggests that reverberation of such sounds from bathymetric features can occur over megameter scales. In the second case, single hydrophone recordings from coral reefs in the Line Islands archipelago reveal that local ambient reef sound is spectrally similar to sounds produced by small, hard-shelled benthic invertebrates in captivity. Time- lapse photography of the reef reveals an increase in benthic invertebrate activity at sundown, consistent with an increase in sound level. The dominant acoustic phenomenon on these reefs may thus originate from the interaction between a large number of small invertebrates and the substrate. Such sounds could be used to take census of hard-shelled benthic invertebrates that are otherwise extremely difficult to survey. A two-dimensional 'map' of sound production over a coral reef in the Hawaiian Islands was obtained using two-dimensional hydrophone array in the third case. Heterogeneously distributed bio-acoustic sources were generally co-located with rocky reef areas. Acoustically dominant snapping shrimp were largely restricted to one location within the area surveyed. This distribution of sources could reveal small-scale spatial ecological limitations, such as the availability of food and shelter. While array-based passive acoustic sensing is well established in seismoacoustics, the technique is little utilized in the study of ambient biological sound. With the continuance of Moore's law and advances in battery and memory technology, inferring biological processes from ambient sound may become a more accessible tool in underwater ecological evaluation and monitoring

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