Abstract

In 2 pts. Laboratory measurements of compressional sound speed and absorption have been made on 111 unconsolidated marine sediment samples, ranging from shallow-water sands to deep-sea clays. In addition, determinations were made of porosity, wet density, and grain size distributions. Frequencies between 20 kc./sec. and 27 kc./sec. were used for the acoustic studies. Sound speed values at room temperature range from 1.474 km./sec. for a red medium clay to 1.785 km./sec. for a medium sand. More than one-third of the values are lower than the value for sea water alone. Variations in the speed of sound in unconsolidated sediments as found in nature are caused by the following factors in order of importance: 1) porosity, because of the great difference in compressibility of water and mineral grains; 2) the factor which produces rigidity, which appears to be related to the abundance of coarse grains; 3) pressure; 4) temperature; 5) compressibility of the grain aggregate, determined from compressibilities of individual minerals. Sound absorption measurements ranged from 0.5 db/m. for a medium clay (28.4 kc./sec.) to about 20 db/m. for silts and fine sands (between 30 and 37 kc./SEC.). An absorption maximum occurs for sediments of intermediate porosity (0.45-0.6) and intermediate grain size (0.031 mm.-0.25mm.). The expression alpha = M A s , where alpha is the linear absorption coefficient, M is a frequency-dependent factor related to the sediment volume fraction of grains in mutual contact, and A s is a computable total acoustically effective grain-surface area, predicts the absorption values and the absorption maximum. Absorption measurements at more than one frequency between 20 kc./sec. and 37 kc./sec. were obtained for 65 samples. Assuming that absorption is directly proportional to frequency raised to a power n, the data yield an average value of n equal to 1.79, with a standard deviation of 0.98.

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