Understanding the mechanisms by which the ocean sediment redirects impinging sound back into the ocean is necessary in developing propagation models for sonar performance prediction. The Naval Underwater Systems Center (NUSC) has (1) conducted controlled, self-calibrating acoustic measurements where the ocean bottom interacted signal is isolated in time for analysis, (2) developed deconvolution processing techniques to aid in describing the impulse response of the ocean sediment, and (3) performed modeling to study the interaction of acoustic waves at the ocean bottom. This paper presents a synopsis of studies showing the necessity of considering the refraction of sound by the ocean sediment when predicting low-frequency propagation loss. Constructive interference between nonplanar wave sediment refracted sound and sound reflected by the ocean-sediment interface and subbottom layering can cause negative values of bottom loss when using plane-wave models to interpret measured data. These models cannot account for all possible acoustic arrivals at a receiver. In addition, for a given frequency and constant ocean bottom grazing angle, bottom loss can be dependent upon both processing bandwidth and source/receiver depth. Deconvolution has aided in time resolution of signals that make up the bottom-interacted signals. Resolution of these signals aids in interpreting results. A modeling effort utilizing the Fast Field Program (a computer technique for evaluating the field integral by the fast Fourier transform) provides quantitative evidence for the necessity of accounting for the refraction of sound by subocean sediments to interpret properly low-frequency propagation loss measurements.

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