Remote characterization and parameterization of gassy sediments have significant environmental importance for quantifying the global methane budget and assessing its impact on climate change. Acoustic techniques that have been developed hold advantages over direct sediment sampling (e.g., using pressurized and frozen cores), as they permit comparatively quick and cost-effective assessments over the large bottom areas. This paper proposes a non-invasive acoustic method that allows simultaneous assessments of the free gas content ((Formula presented.)) and the thickness ((Formula presented.)) of a gassy layer in the aquatic surface sediments. The method is based on amplitude measurements and frequency analysis of the bottom reflection coefficient in the wide frequency band (300–3500 Hz). The spatial variability of (Formula presented.) and (Formula presented.) in freshwater Lake Kinneret (Israel) is studied, where the upper sedimentary layer is characterized by a high organic matter content, high methane production rates, and a large (Formula presented.). The assessed values of (Formula presented.) and (Formula presented.) varied from 0.1% to 0.6%, and from 20 to 40 cm, respectively, depending on the location of measurements. These results are in reasonable agreement with gas void fractions measured directly in frozen sediment cores, where the depth-averaged (Formula presented.) varied from (Formula presented.) to (Formula presented.). The suggested methodology should have considerable practical implementation for remote spatiotemporal monitoring of shallow gassy sediments in aquatic ecosystems.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors would like to thank Liu Liu, Andreas Lorke, Stephan Hilgert, Klajdi Sotiri, Jeremy Wilkinson, and Yannick Dück for cooperation on studying gassy sediments in Lake Kinneret and discussions. They also thank Gennady Zaslavsky, Semion Kaganovsky, and Captains Moti Diamant and Oz Tzabari‐Dar for their help and assistance during the acquisition of acoustic data. This work was supported by the Israel Science Foundation (grant 946/20) and Ministry of National Infrastructures, Energy and Water Resources, Israel (grant 214‐17‐007).
© 2022 The Authors. Limnology and Oceanography: Methods published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ocean Engineering