Depth-Dependent Seabed Properties: Geoacoustic Assessment

Offshore geoengineering requires reliable sediment parameters for analysis and design. This study proposes a robust framework for effective stress-dependent geotechnical and geoacoustic properties for seabed analysis based on geophysical models, new experimental data, and extensive data sets compiled from published studies that cover a wide range of marine sediments and depths. First, effective stress-dependent porosity versus depth profiles are computed using compaction models that are valid for a wide stress range. Then, P- and S-wave velocity data are analyzed in the context of effective stress-controlled density, shear stiffness, and bulk modulus within a Hertzian-Biot-Gassmann framework. Finally, this study selects six distinct “reference sediments” that range from clean sands to highplasticity clays and assigns self-consistent compaction and shear stiffness properties using well-known correlations reported in the literature in terms of specific surface, plasticity, and grain characteristics. Results show that robust physical models for compaction and stiffness adequately predict depth-dependent geotechnical and geoacoustic properties according to sediment type. The asymptotic void ratio at low effective stress eL determines the sediment density ρo at the sediment–water boundary. New experimental studies show that the characteristic asymptotic sediment density ρo at very low effective stress σ 0z → 0 controls the high-frequency acoustic reflection used for bathymetric imaging. The proposed analysis of geoacoustic data can be used to obtain first-order estimates of seafloor sediment properties and to produce sediment-type seafloor maps. D

Lyu, C., Park, J., & Carlos Santamarina, J. (2021). Depth-Dependent Seabed Properties: Geoacoustic Assessment. Journal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering, 147(1), 04020151. doi:10.1061/(asce)gt.1943-5606.0002426

Support for this research was provided by the KAUST Endowment at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology. Gabrielle E. Abelskamp edited the manuscript.

American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)

Journal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering


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