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Experimental airborne electromagnetic (AEM) survey data collected in Cape Cod Bay are used to derive continuous profiles of water depth, electrical depth, water conductivity, and bottom sediment conductivity. Through a few well-known empirical relationships, the conductivities are used, in turn, to derive density, porosity, sound speed, and acoustic reflectivity of the ocean bottom. A commercially available Dighem III AEM system was used for the survey without any significant modification. The helicopter-borne system operated at 385 and 7200 Hz; both were in a horizontal coplanar configuration. The interpreted profiles show good agreement with available ground truth data. Where no such data are available, the results appear to be very reasonable. Compared with the shipborne electrode array method, the AEM method can determine the necessary parameters at a much higher speed with a better lateral resolution over a wide range of water depths from 0 to perhaps 100 m. The bottom sediment conductivity that can be measured by the AEM method is closely related to physical properties of sediments, such as porosity, density, sound speed, and, indirectly, sediment types that might carry broad implications for various offshore activities.
Date of Publication: Jan 1986