Horizontal refraction and diffraction of underwater sound around an island

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The three-dimensional (3D) propagation effects of horizontal refraction and diffraction were measured on a tetrahedral hydrophone array deployed near the coast of Block Island, RI. Linear frequency modulated chirp signals, centered at 1 kHz with a 400 Hz bandwidth, were transmitted from a ship moving out of the acoustic shadow zone blocked by the island from the perspective of the hydrophone array. The observed shadow zone boundary was consistent with the prediction made by a 3D sound propagation model incorporating high-resolution bathymetry and realistic sound speed obtained from a data-assimilated regional ocean model. The 3D modal ray calculation provided additional insight into the frequency dependence of the signal spreading. This analysis found that the modes at higher frequencies can propagate closer to the coast of the island with shallower modal cutoff depths, where the sound energy penetrates the sloping seafloor at supercritical incidence. The evidence of horizontal caustics of the sound was shown in the parabolic equation and modal ray models by comparing to the arrival pattern observed in the data. The arrival angle measurements on the tetrahedral array show the complex propagation patterns, including the diffracted energy in the island shadow and acoustic energy refracted away from the island.

Publication Title, e.g., Journal

Journal of the Acoustical Society of America