PMEL Acoustics Program logo National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory Acoustics Program
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Acoustics Staff:
Principal Investigators:

Dr. Robert Dziak, Acoustics Program Manager (pubs)

Dr. Joe Haxel: Research Associate (pubs)

Dr. Holger Klinck: Research Associate (pubs)

Dr. Haru Matsumoto: Ocean Engineer (pubs)

Dr. Dave Mellinger: Project Leader (pubs)


Research Assistants:

Matt Fowler:Research Assistant-Marine Technician (pubs)

Selene Fregosi: Graduate Research Assistant

Sara Heimlich: Research Assistant (pubs)

Karolin Klinck: Research Assistant

Andy Lau: Programmer

Sharon Nieukirk: Senior Research Assistant (pubs)

Anna Semple: Research Assistant-Data Analyst


Engineering Technicians:

Alex Turpin: Engineering Techinician


Sound files available for playback:
CoAxial eruption earthquake, NE Pacific Seismicity
Marine Mammals
Ocean Noise
Cryogenic (Ice)



The NOAA/PMEL Vents Program was re-organized into two separate focused programs: Earth-Ocean Interactions and Acoustics.

Glider launched in Kona, Hawaii

PMEL Acoustics

Our Mission:

We develop unique acoustics tools and technologies to support the mission of NOAA as well as other federal agencies, academic institutions and international partners. Our primary goals are [a] to acquire long-term data sets of the global ocean acoustics environment, and [b] to identify and assess acoustic impacts from human activities and natural processes on the marine environment.

QuePhone in water

Program Goals:

  • Conduct marine acoustics research and technology development under NOAA’s mission of Science, Service, and Stewardship
  • Provide acoustic tools and research capabilities for a variety of applications to meet NOAA’s research goals
  • Develop “Next Generation” technologies and instrumentation in support of NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR) objectives


Acoustics Research Groups:

Hydroacoustic monitoring allows the detection and precise location of small submarine earthquakes and volcanic activity.
Underwater acoustic methods are being used to study the distribution of large whales in the open oceans.
Studies on the cause and effect of ambient noise, both from natural and man-made sources, on marine ecosystems.




Listening to the Deep:

Deploying the hydrophonePMEL Acoustics scientists designed a hydrophone capable of withstanding the 16,142 pounds of pressure per square inch for listening to sounds from the Challenger Deep. The ceramic pressure sensor is specifically designed for deep-ocean work, and houses the electronics, disk storage, pre-amplifier and battery case for a special mission. (Coast Guard Compass)


Ocean Acoustics program scientists record sounds of iceberg demise:

During a 5-year hydrophone experiment along the Antarctic Peninsula, OA scientists recorded of the full life cycle sounds of a mega iceberg, from grounding tremor at its origin to icequakes as it broke apart in the warmer waters of the southern ocean.  It was estimated that these cryogenic sounds can be significantly louder than anthropogenic noises and should be considered as a major contributor to the overall ocean noise budget in the southern ocean. These results are detailed in a recent paper published in Oceanography. (KLCC Public Broadcasting | Discovery News | National Geographic | Voice of America)


First CO2 gas flow estimate from a submarine volcano:
Eruption at NW Rota-1Using hydrophone records of volcanic explosion sounds and melt inclusion data, Vents scientists were able to estimate the yearly amount of carbon dioxide gas emitted from a submarine volcano. The results, published in the journal G-cubed (pdf), show that the 500 m deep volcano NW Rota-1 (located in the Mariana Island group) expels ~0.4 Tgrams of CO2 per year, or roughly 1% of the global CO2 contribution from subaerial arc volcanoes.


Precursors to Eruption at Axial Seamount Found:
NOAA Vents scientists recently published papers in the journal Nature Geoscience that show, for the first time, that precursory signals were recorded by seafloor instruments before an undersea volcanic eruption at Axial Seamount in 2011. Such signals could be used to issue long-term and short-term forecasts of future eruptions at the site


fin whale

PMEL Researches "Wind to Whales" in the Bering Sea February 2, 2010. In a study published January 30 in Geophysical Research Letters, described integrated biophysical data “from wind to whales” in the Southeast Bering Sea. 2/10/2010


NOAA Expedition Hears Endangered North Atlantic Right Whales off Greenland (NOAA News 5/28/2009)

Right Whales Return to Former Killing Ground
(National Geographic News 5/20/2009)