Seafloor seismicity, Antarctic ice-sounds, cetacean vocalizations and long-term ambient sound in the Indian Ocean basin

This paper presents the results from the Deflo-hydroacoustic experiment in the Southern Indian Ocean using three autonomous underwater hydrophones, complemented by two permanent hydroacoustic stations. The array monitored for 14 months, from November 2006 to December 2007, a 3000 x 3000 km wide area, encompassing large segments of the three Indian spreading ridges that meet at the Indian Triple Junction. A catalogue of 11 105 acoustic events is derived from the recorded data, of which 55 per cent are located from three hydrophones, 38 per cent from 4, 6 per cent from five and less than 1 per cent by six hydrophones. From a comparison with land-based seismic catalogues, the smallest detected earthquakes are m(b) 2.6 in size, the range of recorded magnitudes is about twice that of land-based networks and the number of detected events is 5-16 times larger. Seismicity patterns vary between the three spreading ridges, with activity mainly focused on transform faults along the fast spreading Southeast Indian Ridge and more evenly distributed along spreading segments and transforms on the slow spreading Central and ultra-slow spreading Southwest Indian ridges; the Central Indian Ridge is the most active of the three with an average of 1.9 events/100 km/month. Along the Sunda Trench, acoustic events mostly radiate from the inner wall of the trench and show a 200-km-long seismic gap between 2 degrees S and the Equator. The array also detected more than 3600 cryogenic events, with different seasonal trends observed for events from the Antarctic margin, compared to those from drifting icebergs at lower (up to 50 degrees S) latitudes. Vocalizations of five species and subspecies of large baleen whales were also observed and exhibit clear seasonal variability. On the three autonomous hydrophones, whale vocalizations dominate sound levels in the 20-30 and 100 Hz frequency bands, whereas earthquakes and ice tremor are a dominant source of ambient sound at frequencies < 20 Hz.


Hydrogeophysics, Acoustic properties, Mid-ocean ridge processes, Indian Ocean

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Royer J. -Y., Chateau R., Dziak R. P., Bohnenstiehl D. R. (2015). Seafloor seismicity, Antarctic ice-sounds, cetacean vocalizations and long-term ambient sound in the Indian Ocean basin. Geophysical Journal International. 202 (2). 748-762.,

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