Shallow water acoustics: a review of DREA research


  • D.M.F. Chapman Defence Res. Establ. Atlantic, Dartmouth, NS, Canada
  • S.J. Hughes Defence Res. Establ. Atlantic, Dartmouth, NS, Canada
  • P.R. Staal Defence Res. Establ. Atlantic, Dartmouth, NS, Canada


acoustic arrays, acoustic wave absorption, acoustic wave transmission, sonar, underwater sound, shallow water environmental acoustics, passive sonar applications, submarine detection, ambient noise, transmission loss, physical mechanisms, acoustic environment, modelling capability, hydrophone arrays, active sonar, bottom-mounted sensors, three-dimensional environments


From 1949 to 1989, the Defence Research Establishment Atlantic (DREA) conducted research in shallow water environmental acoustics in support of passive sonar applications in submarine detection. The emphasis was on collecting ambient noise and transmission loss data in a variety of geographical areas of interest with different seabed types in all seasons of the year. Significant progress was made in understanding the physical mechanisms governing the acoustic environment, especially the role of the seabed. The modelling capability improved substantially, drawing on computer codes developed inhouse and elsewhere. An important lesson learned was that passive detection is governed by the sum of transmission loss and ambient noise level, which varies from site to site much less than each component considered separately. Despite the progress made, much remains to be done, particularly with regard to the performance of hydrophone arrays in shallow water environments. The way ahead should include: experimental studies of array performance; environmental acoustics measurements relevant to active sonar in shallow water; bottom-mounted sensors (including geophones); and integration of oceanographic and geophysical databases with sonar models in three-dimensional environments

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How to Cite

Chapman D, Hughes S, Staal P. Shallow water acoustics: a review of DREA research. Canadian Acoustics [Internet]. 1992 Jun. 1 [cited 2024 Apr. 17];20(2):37-42. Available from:



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