Submarine mud volcanoes occur in many parts of the world’s oceans and form an aperture for gas and fluidized mud emission from within the earth’s crust. Their characteristics are of considerable interest to the geology, geophysics, geochemistry, and underwater acoustics communities. For the latter, mud volcanoes are of interest in part because they pose a potential source of clutter for active sonar. Close-range (single-interaction) scattering measurements from a mud volcano in the Straits of Sicily show scattering10–15dB above the background. Three hypotheses were examined concerning the scattering mechanism: (1) gas entrained in sediment at/near mud volcano, (2) gas bubbles and/or particulates (emitted) in the water column, (3) the carbonate bio-construction covering the mud volcano edifice. The experimental evidence, including visual, acoustic, and nonacoustic sensors, rules out the second hypothesis (at least during the observation time) and suggests that, for this particular mud volcano the dominant mechanism is associated with carbonate chimneys on the mud volcano. In terms of scattering levels, target strengths of 4–14dB were observed from 800to3600Hz for a monostatic geometry with grazing angles of 3–5°. Similar target strengths were measured for vertically bistatic paths with incident and scattered grazing angles of 3–5° and 33–50°, respectively.


Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping

Publication Date




Journal Title

Journal of the Acoustical Society of America



Publisher Place

Melville, NY, USA


© 2006 Acoustical Society of America.


Acoustical Society of America

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


Document Type

Journal Article