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Passive underwater acoustic evolution of a calving event

  • Erin C. Pettit (a1)


Direct measurements of processes occurring at the ice–ocean boundary are difficult to acquire because of the dangerous and dynamic nature of the boundary, yet these processes are among the least well understood in glaciology. Because sound travels well through water, passive underwater acoustics offers a method to remotely sense activity at this boundary. Here we present passive acoustic measurements and spectral analysis of the evolution of a subaerial calving event and the subsequent mini-tsunami and seiche at Meares Glacier, Alaska, USA. Using two hydrophones to record sound from 1 to 40 000 Hz, we find that each phase of a calving event has distinctive spectral characteristics. An event begins with an infrasound rumble (1–20 Hz), then the ice fractures (20–100 Hz), falls and impacts the water (200–600 Hz). High-frequency (>10 000 Hz) sound increases in intensity quickly as the iceberg oscillates, creating turbulence, spray and waves. Within 10 s, the low-frequency audible sound dissipates and the mini-tsunami and seiche sounds dominate (infrasound plus high frequencies) and continue for over 10 min. The specific frequencies and duration of each phase of a calving event depend on its size and location and the glacier and fjord characteristics.

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Passive underwater acoustic evolution of a calving event

  • Erin C. Pettit (a1)


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