Purnima Ratilal


Mark Niedre, Josef Michael Jech, Zoi-Heleni Michalopoulou, Redwood W. Nero

Date of Award


Date Accepted


Degree Grantor

Northeastern University

Degree Level


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department or Academic Unit

College of Engineering, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering


electrical engineering, remote sensing, acoustics, ocean engineering, fish scattering, OAWRS, Ocean waveguide acoustics, passive source localization, towed array


Electrical and Computer Engineering


Many species of fish that inhabit the continental shelf waters can cause significant acoustic scattering at low- to mid-frequencies due to the large impedance contrast between their air-filled swimbladders and the surrounding water. In this thesis, we investigate the acoustic resonance scattering response from distributed fish groups both experimentally and theoretically including the effects of multiple scattering, attenuation, and dispersion in a random range-dependent ocean waveguide using an instantaneous wide-area imaging system. In navy sonar operations, the biological organisms can cause high false alarm rates or missed target detections since the biological scattering can be confused with or camouflage the returns from other discrete and distributed objects, such as underwater vehicles and geologic features. From an ecological perspective, the ability to instantaneously survey fish populations distributed over wide areas is important for fisheries management.

The low-frequency target strength of shoaling Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus) in the Gulf of Maine during their Autumn 2006 spawning season is estimated from experimental data acquired simultaneously at multiple frequencies in the 300 to 1200 Hz range using (1) a low-frequency ocean acoustic waveguide remote sensing (OAWRS) system, (2) areal population density calibration with several conventional fish finding sonar (CFFS) systems, and (3) low-frequency transmission loss measurements. The OAWRS system's instantaneous imaging diameter of 100 km and regular updating enabled unaliased monitoring of fish populations over ecosystem scales including shoals of Atlantic herring containing as many as 200 million individuals, as estimated based on single scattering assumption and confirmed by concurrent trawl and CFFS sampling. The mean scattering cross-section of an individual shoaling herring is found to consistently exhibit a strong, roughly 20 dB/octave roll-off with decreasing frequency over all days of the roughly 2-week experiment, consistent with the steep roll-offs expected for sub-resonance scattering from fish with air-filled swimbladders.

A numerical Monte-Carlo model is developed to determine the statistical moments of the broadband matched filtered scattered returns from fish groups spanning over multiple range and cross-range resolution cells of a waveguide remote sensing system. It uses the parabolic equation to simulate acoustic field propagation in a random range-dependent ocean waveguide. The effects of (1) multiple scattering, (2) attenuation due to scattering, and (3) fish group 3D spatial configuration on fish population density imaging are examined. The model is applied to investigate (a) population density imaging of shoaling Atlantic herring during the 2006 Gulf of Maine Experiment (GOME06) and (b) examine the wide-area imaging of sparse aggregation of ground fish species, such as Atlantic Cod, in Ipswich Bay continental shelf environment using the waveguide remote sensing system. Incoherent intensities are shown to dominate the total scattered returns from distributed fish groups making single scattering assumption valid for inferring fish areal population densities from their matched filtered scattered intensities. Multiple scattering, attenuation, fish group 3D spatial configuration, and coherent effects, such as resonance shift, sub- and super-local-maxima are found to be negligible at the imaging frequencies employed and for the herring densities observed. Similar results are obtained for the sparsely aggregated cod, but coherent effects such as the double-peak in school resonance can be prominent at much lower fish densities. Attenuation due to scattering can be significant when the fish flesh viscosity is high, especially true for cod.

We also investigate approaches for instantaneous long-range passive source localization and tracking with a towed horizontal line-array in a random range-dependent ocean waveguide using passive waveguide acoustics. This is very important for many sonar applications, such as localizing and tracking underwater vehicles and vocalizing marine mammal populations. Instantaneous passive source localization applying the (1) synthetic aperture tracking, (2) array invariant, (3) bearings-only target motion analysis in modified polar coordinates via the extended Kalman filter, and (4) bearings-migration minimum mean-square error methods using measurements made on a single towed horizontal receiver array in a random range-dependent ocean waveguide are examined. These methods are employed to localize and track a vertical source array deployed in the far-field of a towed horizontal receiver array during the Gulf of Maine 2006 Experiment. The source transmitted intermittent broadband pulses in the 300-1200 Hz frequency range. All four methods are found to be comparable with average errors of between 9% to 13% in estimating the mean source positions in a wide variety of source-receiver geometries and range separations up to 20 km. In the case of a relatively stationary source, the synthetic aperture tracking outperformed the other three methods by a factor of two with only 4% error. For a moving source, the Kalman filter method yielded the best performance with 8% error. The array invariant was the best approach for localizing sources within the endfire beam of the receiver array with less than 10% error.

Document Type


Rights Information

copyright 2012

Rights Holder

Zheng Gong

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