Relating Geotechnical Sediment Properties and Low Frequency CHIRP Sonar Measurements

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Low frequency acoustic methods are a common tool for seabed stratigraphy mapping. Due to the efficiency in seabed mapping compared to geotechnical methods, estimating geotechnical sediment properties from acoustic surveying is attractive for many applications. In this study, co-located geotechnical and geoacoustic measurements of different seabed sediment types in shallow water environments (<5 m of water depth) are analyzed. Acoustic impedance estimated from sediment properties based on laboratory testing of physical samples is compared to acoustic impedance deduced from CHIRP sonar measurements using an inversion approach. Portable free fall penetrometer measurements provided in situ sediment strength. The results show that acoustic impedance values deduced from acoustic data through inversion fall within a range of ±25% of acoustic impedance estimated from porosity and bulk density. The acoustic measurements reflect variations in shallow sediment properties such as porosity and bulk density (~10 cm below seabed surface), even for very soft sediments (su < 3 kPa) and loose sands (~20% relative density). This is a step towards validating the ability of acoustic methods to capture geotechnical properties in the topmost seabed layers.

Jaber, R.; Stark, N.; Sarlo, R.; McNinch, J.E.; Massey, G. Relating Geotechnical Sediment Properties and Low Frequency CHIRP Sonar Measurements. Remote Sens. 2024, 16, 241.