Very low frequency (0.2-10.0 Hz) seismoacoustic noise below the seafloor Academic Article uri icon


  • The sources and propagation of VLF (0.2 –> 10 Hz) ambient noise on and within the deep ocean crust at Deep Sea Drilling Project (DSDP) Hole 534B in the Blake Bahama Basin are shown to be related to the surface sea state and local lithology. This study represents the first experiment where ambient noise is measured simultaneously at several depths below the seafloor. The low-frequency microseism power spectral density (PSD) peak at 0.3 Hz is nearly invariant with depth between 0 and 100 m below the seafloor. PSD levels of the peak are 65 and 75 dB (rel 1 (nm/s(2))(2)/Hz) for the vertical and horizontal components, respectively, and both horizontal and vertical components of the ocean bottom seismometer and borehole array compare favorably. Above 0.5 Hz the noise levels decrease with depth and increasing frequency. At 1.0 Hz, 100 m below the seafloor the noise level is 10 and 20 dB below the levels observed at the seafloor for vertical and horizontal components, respectively. There is evidence that amplification in some frequency bands may make deeper sites noisier than shallower sites in the same well. Temporal variation of the noise shows nonlinear interaction of local water-borne gravity waves to be the dominant source mechanism and that the passing of a local storm generates interface waves and increases the noise level (similar to 10 dB) from 0.3 to 1.5 Hz and 5 to 64 Hz. Between 1.5 and 5 Hz the spectrum is not strongly affected by the passing storm, indicating that the ocean wave spectrum may be saturated.

publication date

  • June 10, 1997