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The problem of rapid environmental assessment in a range-dependent environment is addressed. For rapid assessment, the exact geoacoustic parameters are not required, nor is it a requirement that the exact structure of the acoustic field (location of peaks and s) be matched by an acoustic prediction model. The parameters that are relevant are the overall transmission loss (incoherent TL), the time spread (τ), and the slopes of the range/frequency interference patterns (β, the waveguide invariant). The rapid geoacoustic characterization algorithm uses a homogeneous single-sediment layer overlying a hard acoustic basement model to optimally match the predicted acoustic observables with those estimated from data. The approach is presented here and is applied to the range-dependent benchmark cases TC1 and TC2 from the Inversion Techniques Workshop held in Gulfport, MS, in May 2001. The technique successfully reproduces the acoustic observables and estimates the sediment sound-speed, density, and attenuation profiles, as well as the sediment thickness.