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Three-Dimensional Acoustic Propagation Through Shallow Water Internal, Surface Gravity and Bottom Sediment Waves

Alexey Shmelev, Ph.D.
James Lynch, Advisor

This thesis describes the physics of fully three-dimensional low frequency acoustic interaction with internal waves, bottom sediment waves and surface swell waves that are often observed in shallow waters and on continental slopes. A simple idealized model of the ocean waveguide is used to analytically study the properties of acoustic normal modes and their perturbations due to waves of each type. The combined approach of a semi-quantitative study based on the geometrical acoustics approximation and on fully three-dimensional coupled mode numerical modeling is used to examine the azimuthal dependence of sound wave horizontal reflection from, transmission through and ducting between straight parallel waves of each type. The impact of the natural crossings of nonlinear internal waves on horizontally ducted sound energy is studied theoretically and modeled numerically using a three-dimensional parabolic equation acoustic propagation code. A realistic sea surface elevation is synthesized from the directional spectrum of long swells and used for three-dimensional numerical modeling of acoustic propagation. As a result, considerable normal mode amplitude scintillations were observed and shown to be strongly dependent on horizontal azimuth, range and mode number. Full field numerical modeling of low frequency sound propagation through large sand waves located on a sloped bottom was performed using the high resolution bathymetry of the mouth of San Francisco Bay. Very strong acoustic ducting is shown to steer acoustic energy beams along the sand wave's curved crests.