On the Mach Wave Effect in Impact Pile Driving, Its Observation, and Its Influence on Transmission Loss

Jan. 31, 2015


Peter H. Dahl and Per G. Reinhall


Pile driving in water produces extremely high sound pressure levels in the surrounding underwater environment of order 10 kPa at ranges of order 10 m from the pile that can result in deleterious effects on both fish and marine mammals. In Reinhall and Dahl [J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 130, 1209-1216, Sep. 2011] it is shown that the dominant underwater noise from impact driving is from the Machwave associated with the radial expansion of the pile that propagates down the pile at speeds in excess of Mach 3 with respect to the underwater sound speed. In this talk we focus on observations of the Machwaveeffect made with a 5.6 m-length vertical line array, at ranges 8-15 m in waters of depth ~12.5 m. The key observation is the dominant vertical arrival angle associated with the Machwave, ~17 deg., but other observations include: its frequency dependence, the ratio of purely waterborne energy compared with that which emerges from the sediment, and results of a mode filtering operation which also points to the same dominant angle. Finally, these observations suggest a model for transmission loss which will also be discussed. [Research supported by the Washington State Department of Transportation.]



"This new research shows we can minimize underwater pile driving noise to avoid harm to mammals and other protected marine species. The new sound attenuation method may also save project construction time and money."
Rhonda Brooks, Research Director, Washington State Department of Transportation

Hear the difference

Recorded from hydrophone deployed at 10m during subscale testing of 8" steel piles in Seattle, Washington in 2013.

You are hearing 4 strikes of a standard pile followed by 4 strikes of a Reinhall Pile™. Notice the difference.