SMS 598: Introduction to Acoustical Oceanography

# of credits: 2.

Taught by: Mick Peterson and Emmanuel Boss and

207-581-2129                    and                           207-581-4378

Meeting times: Fridays, Libby 220 9:45-11:00, 13:00-14:30.

In this course we will get ourselves familiar with the acoustical properties of the oceans and the use of acoustics to study the oceans, their bottom and the biota within them. The class will be comprised of paper discussions, hands-on laboratory sessions and demonstration, and lectures.

Class textbook:

Medwin H. + colleagues. Sounds in the Sea. 2005. Cambridge University Press.

For an evolving syllabus including many links to relevant material click here.

Tentative syllabus:

  1. Introduction- overview, class organization, simple demos.
  2. Physics of sound waves.
  3. Physics of sound Rays.
  4. Sound in the ocean.
  5. Sources and receivers (Lab 1).
  6. Sound scattering and absorption (Lab 2).
  7. Acoustical properties of ocean and sediments (Lab 3).
  8. Biological applications: active and passive.
  9. Sonar systems and inversions.
  10. Special topics: Seafloor mapping, scattering from rough surfaces, wave guides (Lab 4).

Hands-on labs will be conducted on:

  1. Acoustic systems response.
  2. Acoustic backscattering off suspended sediments.
  3. Sensitivity of acoustic backscattering to size.
  4. Reflection of sound from different types of sediments and bed forms.

Objective of the class: By the end of the class student should be able to:

  1. Master key concepts in acoustical oceanography.
  2. Be able to read papers on the subject.
  3. Be familiar with many of the use of acoustics to study the oceans and their bottom.


  1. Assignments: 40%.

  2. Term project (including submitted paper and class presentation): 40%

  3. Participation: 20%