Ambient seismic, hydroacoustic, and flexural gravity wave noise on a tabular iceberg

Douglas R. Macayeal*, Yitan Wang, Emile A. Okal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Cross correlation of ambient seismic noise between four seismographs on tabular iceberg C16, Ross Sea, Antarctica, reveals both the source and the propagation characteristics of signals associated with icebergs. We find that noise correlation functions computed from station data are asymmetric about zero time lag, and this indicates that noise observed on the iceberg originates primarily from a compact, localized source associated with iceberg collisions between C16 and a neighboring iceberg, B15A. We additionally find two, and possibly more, distinct phases of noise propagation. We believe that flexural gravity wave propagation dominates the low-frequency noise (>10 s period) and that hydroacoustic wave propagation in the water column between the ice and seabed appears to dominate high-frequency noise (>10 Hz). Faster seismic propagation dominates the intermediate band (2-6 Hz); however, we do not have sufficient data to characterize the wave mechanisms more precisely, e.g., by identifying distinct longitudinal and shear body waves and/or surface waves. Secular changes in the amplitude and timing of ambient noise correlations, e.g., a diurnal cycle and an apparent shift in the noise correlation of fast seismic modes between two periods of the deployment, allow us to speculate that ambient noise correlation analysis may be helpful in understanding the sources and environmental controls on iceberg-generated ocean noise as well as geometric properties (such as water column thickness) of subglacial lakes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)200-211
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2015


  • ambient noise tomography
  • flexural gravity waves
  • hydroacoustic waves
  • ice shelves
  • iceberg
  • noise correlation function

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Geophysics


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