Wind, waves, and acoustic background levels at Station ALOHA Academic Article uri icon


  • Frequency spectra from deep-ocean near-bottom acoustic measurements obtained contemporaneously with wind, wave, and seismic data are described and used to determine the correlations among these data and to discuss possible causal relationships. Microseism energy appears to originate in four distinct regions relative to the hydrophone: wind waves above the sensors contribute microseism energy observed on the ocean floor; a fraction of this local wave energy propagates as seismic waves laterally, and provides a spatially integrated contribution to microseisms observed both in the ocean and on land; waves in storms generate microseism energy in deep water that travels as seismic waves to the sensor; and waves reflected from shorelines provide opposing waves that add to the microseism energy. Correlations of local wind speed with acoustic and seismic spectral time series suggest that the local Longuet-Higgins mechanism is visible in the acoustic spectrum from about 0.4 Hz to 80 Hz. Wind speed and acoustic levels at the hydrophone are poorly correlated below 0.4 Hz, implying that the microseism energy below 0.4 Hz is not typically generated by local winds. Correlation of ocean floor acoustic energy with seismic spectra from Oahu and with wave spectra near Oahu imply that wave reflections from Hawaiian coasts, wave interactions in the deep ocean near Hawaii, and storms far from Hawaii contribute energy to the seismic and acoustic spectra below 0.4 Hz. Wavefield directionality strongly influences the acoustic spectrum at frequencies below about 2 Hz, above which the acoustic levels imply near-isotropic surface wave directionality.

publication date

  • March 2012