Threshold Monitoring Maps for Under-Water Explosions

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Nimar S Arora, Bayesian Logic, Inc., Union City, CA, United States
Hydro-acoustic energy in the 1-100 Hz range from under-water explosions can easily spread for thousands of miles due to the unique properties of the deep sound channel. This channel, aka SOFAR channel, exists almost everywhere in the earth's oceans where the water has at least 1500m depth. Once the energy is trapped in this channel it spreads out cylindrically, and hence experiences very little loss, as long as there is an unblocked path from source to receiver. Other losses such as absorption due to chemicals in the ocean (mainly boric acid and magnesium sulphate) are also quite minimal at these low frequencies. It is not surprising then that the International Monitoring System (IMS) maintains a global network of hydrophone stations listening on this particular frequency range.

The overall objective of our work is to build a probabilistic model to detect and locate under-water explosions using the IMS network. A number of critical pieces for this model, such as travel time predictions, are already well known. We are extending the existing knowledge-base by building the remaining pieces, most crucially the models for transmission losses and detection probabilities. With a complete model for detecting under-water explosions we are able to combine it with our existing model for seismic events, NET-VISA.

In the conference we will present threshold monitoring maps for explosions in the earth's oceans. Our premise is that explosive sources release an unknown fraction of their total energy into the SOFAR channel, and this trapped energy determines their detection probability at each of the IMS hydrophone stations. Our threshold monitoring maps compute the minimum amount of energy at each location that must be released into the deep sound channel such that there is a ninety percent probability that at least two of the IMS stations detect the event.

We will also present results of our effort to detect and locate hydro-acoustic events. In particular, we will show results from a recent under-water volcanic eruption at the Ahyl Seamount (April-May 2014), and compare our work with the current processing, both automated and human, at the IDC.