Impacts of infauna, worm tubes, and shell hash on sediment acoustic variability and deviation from the viscous grain shearing model

Oct 31, 2022

Author(s): Kevin M. Lee, Gabriel R. Venegas, Megan S. Ballard, Kelly M. Dorgan, Andrew R. McNeese, and Preston S. Wilson, The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, Oct. 31, 2022

Infauna influence geoacoustic parameters in surficial marine sediments. To investigate these effects, an experiment was conducted in natural sand-silt sediment in the northern Gulf of Mexico. In situ acoustic measurements of sediment sound speed, attenuation, and shear speed were performed, and sediment cores were collected from the upper 20 cm of the seabed. Laboratory measurements of sound speed and attenuation in the cores were conducted, after which the core contents were analyzed for biological and physical properties. Since no model currently accounts for the effects of infauna, a deviation from model predictions is expected. To assess the extent of this, acoustic measurements were compared with the viscous grain shearing model from Buckingham [J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 122, 1486 (2007); J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 148, 962 (2020)], for which depth-dependent profiles of sediment porosity and mean grain size measured from the cores were used as input parameters. Comparison of acoustic results with distributions of infauna, worm tubes, and shell hash suggests biogenic impacts on acoustic variability and model accuracy are important in surficial marine sediments. The presence of infauna and worm tubes were correlated with higher variability in both sound speed and attenuation and greater deviation from the model near the sediment-water interface. Article here.