Hydroacoustic signals generated by parked and drifting icebergs in the Southern Indian and Pacific Oceans

Jacques Talandier*, Olivier Hyvernaud, Dominique Reymond, Emile A. Okal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


We report the detection, principally by the French Polynesian seismic network, of hydroacoustic signals generated inside large icebergs, either 'parked' along the Wilkes coast of Antarctica in the Indian Ocean, or drifting in the Southern Pacific Ocean between latitudes of 55° and 65°S, during the years 2002-2004. The signals can be classified into two very broad families, based on the nature of their spectra. A first group features prominently monochromatic signals, whose frequency can, however, fluctuate with time during a single sequence of emission (typically lasting a few to a few tens of minutes). Such signals are generally reminiscent of those detected in 2000 in the Ross Sea and are generated principally in the Indian Ocean 'iceberg parking lot', between longitudes 144°E and 156°E. A new family of signals features a much broader spectrum, superimposed on a number of preferential frequencies suggesting the background activation of a number of resonators; these signals occur both in the parking lot and in the Southern Pacific. Further variations in spectra are documented inside each family. On the basis of similar in situ observations on Ross Sea icebergs under project SOUTHBERG, the first family is generally interpreted as expressing a stick-and-slip process during collisions between large iceberg masses. The second family of signals are observed during exceptional episodes of the otherwise silent drift of the icebergs in the deep Pacific Basin, some of which correlate with their passage over the various fronts defining the oceanographic southern convergence zone. Finally, a most recent episode of activity, generally similar to the above first family, was detected on 2004 December 3-4, at the ocean entry of the Dibble Ice Tongue, 600 km west of the parking lot along the coast of Antarctica. It is interpreted as resulting from collisions between large drifting icebergs and fragments of the ice tongue calved off during its disintegration, as documented by satellite imagery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)817-834
Number of pages18
JournalGeophysical Journal International
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2006


  • Hydroacoustics
  • Icebergs
  • Southern Ocean
  • T waves

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology

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