Acoustic wave propagation in rivers: an experimental study

Geay, Thomas; Michel, Ludovic; Zanker, Sébastien; Rigby, James Robert

This research has been conducted to develop the use of passive acoustic monitoring (PAM) in rivers, a surrogate method for bedload monitoring. PAM consists in measuring the underwater noise naturally generated by bedload particles when impacting the river bed. Monitored bedload acoustic signals depend on bedload characteristics (e.g., grain size distribution, fluxes) but are also affected by the environment in which the acoustic waves are propagated. This study focuses on the determination of propagation effects in rivers. An experimental approach has been conducted in several streams to estimate acoustic propagation laws in field conditions. It is found that acoustic waves are differently propagated according to their frequency. As reported in other studies, acoustic waves are affected by the existence of a cutoff frequency in the kilohertz region. This cutoff frequency is inversely proportional to the water depth: larger water depth enables a better propagation of the acoustic waves at low frequency. Above the cutoff frequency, attenuation coefficients are found to increase linearly with frequency. The power of bedload sounds is more attenuated at higher frequencies than at low frequencies, which means that, above the cutoff frequency, sounds of big particles are better propagated than sounds of small particles. Finally, it is observed that attenuation coefficients are variable within 2 orders of magnitude from one river to another. Attenuation coefficients are compared to several characteristics of the river (e.g., bed slope, surface grain size). It is found that acoustic waves are better propagated in rivers characterized by smaller bed slopes. Bed roughness and the presence of air bubbles in the water column are suspected to constrain the attenuation of acoustic wave in rivers.



Geay, Thomas / Michel, Ludovic / Zanker, Sébastien / et al: Acoustic wave propagation in rivers: an experimental study. 2019. Copernicus Publications.


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