Underwater Sound: Deep-Ocean Propagation

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Science  13 Nov 1964:
Vol. 146, Issue 3646, pp. 889-894
DOI: 10.1126/science.146.3646.889


The absorption of sound in sea water varies markedly with frequency, being much greater at high than at low frequencies. It is sufficiently small at frequencies below several kilocycles per second, however, to permit propagation to thousands of miles.

Oceanographic factors produce variations in sound velocity with depth, and these variations have a strong influence on long-range propagation. The deep ocean is characterized by a strong channel, generally at a depth of 500 to 1500 meters. In addition to guided propagation in this channel, the velocity structure gives rise to strongly peaked propagation from surface sources to surface receivers 48 to 56 kilometers away, with strong shadow zones of weak intensity in between. The near-surface shadow zone, in the latter case, may be filled in by bottom reflections or near-surface guided propagation due to a surface isothermal layer. The near-surface shadow zones can be avoided with certainty only through locating sources and receivers deep in the ocean.