PMEL Acoustics Program logo National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory Acoustics Program

Highlights archives:

Magma explosion at West Mata Undersea eruptions soundscape differences:

PMEL scientists collected video and sound recordings of eruptions in 2009, 1,200 meters (3,937 feet) below sea level in the Pacific Ocean near Samoa.  Two types of eruptions were occurring at the volcano’s vents: one was producing large lava bubbles and the other releasing hundreds of tiny gas bubbles. The unique acoustic signatures associated with both types of eruptions could help scientists detect the different types of explosions going on at underwater volcanoes all over the ocean floor. (AGU Blogosphere)

Deploying the hydrophoneListening to the Deep:

PMEL 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)


Eruption at NW Rota-1First CO2 gas flow estimate from a submarine volcano:
Using 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)