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Utilizing High-Frequency Acoustic Backscatter to Estimate Bottom Sand Ripple Parameters

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3 Author(s)
Tang, D. ; Appl. Phys. Lab., Univ. of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA ; Williams, K.L. ; Thorsos, E.I.

In some applications of underwater acoustics, it is important to know the ripple structure on shallow-water sediments. For example, the prediction of buried target detection via sound scattering by ripples depends critically on the ripple height and spatial wavelength. Another example is the study of sediment transport, where knowing the ripple structure and its evolution over time helps to understand the forcing on the bottom and the response of sediments. Here, backscatter data from a 300-kHz system are used to show that ripple wavelength and height can be estimated from backscatter images via a simple inversion formula. The inversion results are consistent with in situ measurements of the ripple field using an independent measurement system. Motivated by the backscatter data, we have developed a time-domain numerical model to simulate scattering of high-frequency sound by a ripple field. This model treats small-scale scatterers as Lambertian scatterers distributed randomly on the large-scale ripple field. Numerical simulations are conducted to investigate the conditions under which remote sensing of bottom ripple heights, wavelength, and its power spectrum is possible.

Published in:

Oceanic Engineering, IEEE Journal of  (Volume:34 ,  Issue: 4 )