Mine Burial Experiments at the Martha’s Vineyard Coastal Observatory


—Several experiments to measure postimpact burial of seafloor mines by scour and fill have been conducted near the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution’s Martha’s Vineyard Coastal Observatory (MVCO, Edgartown, MA). The sedimentary environment at MVCO consists of a series of rippled scour depressions (RSDs), which are large scale bedforms with alternating areas of coarse and fine sand. This allows simultaneous mine burial experiments in both coarse and fine sand under almost identical hydrodynamic forcing conditions. Two preliminary sets of mine scour burial experiments were conducted during winters 2001–2002 in fine sand and 2002–2003 in coarse sand with a single optically instrumented mine in the field of view of a rotary sidescan sonar. From October 2003 to April of 2004, ten instrumented mines were deployed along with several sonar systems to image mine behavior and to characterize bedform and oceanographic processes. In fine sand, the sonar imagery of the mines revealed that large scour pits form around the mines during energetic wave events. Mines fell into their own scour pits, aligned with the dominant wave crests and became level with the ambient seafloor after several energetic wave events. In quiescent periods, after the energetic wave events, the scour pits episodically infilled with mud. After several scour and infilling events, the scour pits were completely filled and a layer of fine sand covered both the mines and the scour pits, leaving no visible evidence of the mines. In the coarse sand, mines were observed to bury until the exposed height above the ripple crests was approximately the same as the large wave orbital ripple height (wavelengths of 50–125 cm and heights of 10–20 cm). A hypothesis for the physical mechanism responsible for this partial burial in the presence of large bedforms is that the mines bury until they present roughly the same hydrodynamic roughness as the orbital-scale bedforms present in coarse sand.


Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping

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IEEE Journal of Oceanic Engineering





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Washington DC, USA



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Journal Article