Modelling and Monitoring of Underwater Noise
Underwater Noise from Piling and Berth Construction
Underwater Noise Measurement and Baseline Surveys
Shaped Charges Assessment of Noise Impacts on Spawning Fish Populations
Noise Impact Assessments and Impact Management Plans
Noise Impact Mitigation Design and Implementation
Prediction and Modelling of Ship Engine and Propeller Noise
Accredited Marine Mammal Observers and Independent Reviewers
Monitoring and Management
Underwater noise emissions and their potential impacts on the environment and marine fauna in particular are increasingly an issue for environmental regulators and other stakeholders. As part of the environmental assessment process, it is important to quantify at the earliest possible stage the potential environmental risks from underwater noise emissions during the construction or operation of a port development.
Within Australia, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC Act) requires an assessment of potential impacts from underwater activities on threatened species such as whales, dolphins, turtles, dugongs, spawning fish populations and the like. Such activities include seismic exploration, sea channel and harbour deepening by dredging and blasting, near-shore excavation, piling operations, berth construction and the ongoing operational noise from shipping traffic.
Seasonal vulnerability arising from the migratory patterns of mega fauna such as the humpback whale up and down both the eastern and western coasts of Australia needs to be assessed and managed. Any significant marine-based proposal requires investigation into the potential impacts at the early stages of project design and development so that all reasonable steps are taken to protect the species and minimise regulatory-enforced project delays.
SLR Consulting combines extensive experience in acoustics with in-house ecological expertise coupled with key independent academic peer review partnerships in order to deliver the full suite of underwater acoustics services. These include baseline surveys, source sound power studies, numerical predictive modelling, detailed impact assessment and impact mitigation design, implementation and monitoring.
Recent Projects Undertaken by SLR Consulting
- Abbot Point Coal Terminal Expansion Project
- Hay Point Coal Terminal Expansion Project
- Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM)
- Western Australian Port Expansion
- Port Chalmers Berth Deepening
- Harbour Deepening Operations
- Sydney Harbour Tunnel - Harbour Dredging
- Magnetic Island Dredging Project
- Subsea Mining Machinery Development
Underwater Noise Modelling
An important initial step in the noise impact assessment process is to determine the likely levels of noise emissions that may result from a particular operation or development. Having an understanding of these levels allows for decisions in relation to the appropriateness of the operation or requirement for management measures to be made. These noise levels can be determined directly via measurement of similar activities at similar sites or via prediction based on proven modelling techniques.
SLR Consulting implements a range of prediction algorithms in order to determine, in three dimensions, the noise levels at any location within the project area or to determine the region of potential impact surrounding a particular site. The algorithms incorporate important site-specific characteristics such as bathymetry, sound velocity profiles and composition of the sea floor to provide a range, depth and frequency dependent prediction of noise levels at any location within the region of interest.
SLR Consulting has undertaken extensive research into the potential effects of underwater noise emissions on marine fauna in consultation with our in-house ecology team and associated expert academic reviewers. We are therefore able to determine the potential zones of impact for specific species, whether it be for large marine mammals, turtles or fish, and relevant to the proposed construction or operational activities.
The combination of detailed empirical or numerical modelling techniques and specific knowledge of species specific impacts allows SLR Consulting to develop and implement common sense, practical strategies to manage the potential impacts of underwater noise on marine fauna and infrastructure.
Environmental Management Design and Implementation
A key step in the mitigation of underwater acoustic risk to marine fauna and marine infrastructure is the design and implementation of a sound, cost effective management plan. SLR Consulting has, initially through research via acoustical technical forums and then via extensive project application, developed and implemented numerous underwater noise management plans.
These include measures such as Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM), Visual Observation (using accredited Marine Mammal Observers) and long term statistical monitoring of marine fauna populations and habitation patterns. SLR Consulting has also developed and presented training materials for clients in relation to Marine Mammal Observation on a project specific basis.