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 Director (pubs)

Dr. Joe Haxel: Assistant Professor (pubs)

Dr. Haru Matsumoto: Assistant Professor (pubs)

Dr. Dave Mellinger: Professor (pubs)


Research Assistants:

Selene Fregosi: Graduate Research Assistant

Sara Heimlich: Research Assistant (pubs)

Andy Lau: Programmer

Sharon Nieukirk: Senior Research Assistant (pubs)
Lauren Roche: Research Assistant
Logan Squiers: Hydrophone Tech.



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.



Location map of reference stations Noises from Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench


PMEL researchers developed a unique hydrophone mooring that made the first sound recording at Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench.

For more information, see:

Eerie noises from the darkest depths (Washington Post)

Noisier than Expected (Newsweek)
Rumbles in the Deep (Oregonian)

Ocean's deepest spot a noisy place (Seattle Times)

Oregon Scientists Eavesdrop On Ocean's Deepest Deep (Oregon Public Broadcasting)

Location map of reference stationsJust how noisy is the ocean?

Monitoring baseline ocean noise is critically important to understand both natural and anthropogenic changes in the marine ambient sound environment. A network of 11 ocean noise reference stations has been established in U.S. waters to measure changes and trends in natural and man-made ocean noise.  Natural sounds ranging from whale calls and volcanoes to anthropogenic sounds from shipping and oil/gas exploration are recorded by the moored, underwater hydrophones developed by PMEL engineers and scientists and deployed in collaboration with NMFS-OST, all the Fisheries Science Centers, NOS Marine Sanctuaries, and the National Park Service. The establishment of a long-term record provides fundamental data needed to understand how increased noise in the ocean may affect marine life and ocean health. For more information, see:


Strong Earthquakes off the Oregon Coast:
A sequence of strong earthquakes (magnitudes 4.3-5.9) occurred on the seafloor ~250 miles west of Newport, Oregon. The earthquakes are along the western Blanco Fracture Zone, a 200 mile long strike-slip fault located in water a mile deep. The Blanco forms one of the southern boundaries between the small Juan de Fuca plate and the much larger Pacific Plate. Clusters of earthquakes of this magnitude occur on the Blanco Fracture Zone roughly every 3-5 years. (June 1, 2015):
USA Today | Weather Channel | Statesman Journal | Oregonian


For past Highlights visit: Highlights Archives.