# Underwater Noise Emission Due to Offshore Pile Installation: A Review

## Abstract

**:**

## 1. Introduction

## 2. Structure-Borne Noise in Offshore Piling: The Historical Development of Models

#### 2.1. First Generation Models: The Fluid Approximation of the Seabed

#### 2.2. Second Generation Models: Inclusion of the Elastic Seabed

## 3. The State-Of-The-Art in Predictive Modelling of Sound

#### 3.1. Empirical Models

^{−1}]. This marks essentially a damped cylindrical spreading (DCS) model of the form ${L}_{E}\left(\overline{r}\right)=\left[\text{source level}\right]-A{log}_{10}\left(\overline{r}\right)-B\phantom{\rule{0.166667em}{0ex}}\overline{r}$, in which $\overline{r}$ defines the source-receiver distance, $A=10$, and the parameter $B=\alpha $ can vary depending on the reflectivity of the seabed and the grazing angle between the Mach cone and seabed. The depth-averaged sound exposure level ${L}_{E}$ is defined as [131]

#### 3.2. Advanced Models: The Mathematical Statement of the Problem

#### 3.3. Semi-Analytical Solution Methods

#### 3.3.1. Close-Range Module

#### 3.3.2. Far-Range Module

#### 3.4. Numerical Solution Methods

#### 3.4.1. CMST Model

#### 3.4.2. TUHH Model

#### 3.4.3. JASCO Model

#### 3.4.4. SNU Model (Seoul National University Underwater Acoustics Group)

#### 3.4.5. TNO Model

- Aquarius 2: Combines a detailed FE model of the pile and the surrounding environment with an efficient adiabatic range dependent normal mode model for shallow water sound propagation [95,101]. Aquarius 2 has been used in research projects in which detailed information of pile and hammer force were available. It is benchmarked against both COMPILE workshops [131,151].
- Aquarius 3: Is based on a novel efficient implementation of the hybrid propagation model ‘Soprano’ for range-dependent shallow waveguides developed by Sertlek et al. [163]. It combines the accuracy of an incoherent adiabatic range-dependent normal mode model with the speed of Weston’s flux integral approach. For this model the same point source level is used as for Aquarius 1.

#### 3.4.6. LUH Model

#### 3.4.7. UoS/NPL Model (University of Southampton and the National Physics Laboratory)

#### 3.5. Overview of Available Models

## 4. Key Features in Noise Prediction

#### 4.1. Evolution of Noise Metrics with Distance

#### 4.2. Energy Flux through the Seawater and the Seabed

#### 4.3. Noise Spectrum and Pile Size

## 5. Noise Mitigation Strategies

- casings that enclose the pile in the form of either a de-pressurised double-walled cylindrical shell [178] or lightweight inflatable fabrics which build an air-column around the pile and

#### 5.1. Air Bubble Curtains

#### 5.1.1. Modelling the Air Bubble Curtain

- The primary mechanism of noise reduction in the low-frequency range is the impedance mismatch between regions I and II (Figure 13). The attenuation of the waves in the bubbly layer seems not to be the governing factor in the noise reduction, mainly because of the relatively high resonance frequency of the small bubbles usually applied in practice (Figure 13).
- The effectiveness of the air bubble curtain is higher for an increased air–volume fraction in the bubbly medium (Figure 13). This has also been reported in [185]. An increase of the air–volume fraction results at a decreased wave velocity. This, in turn, yields a higher impedance contrast between the seawater and the bubbly medium (regions I and II).
- An increase in the thickness of the curtain does not lead to an increased noise reduction at the frequency range of interest in most cases. This holds for bubbly mixtures in which the principal mechanism of noise reduction is the impedance mismatch between the seawater and the air bubble curtain as explained earlier.
- The distance at which the bubble curtain is placed can influence its effectiveness. An increase in the horizontal distance leads to an increased noise reduction when all other parameters remain the same. This has been confirmed more recently by the cases analysed in [195], in which a more detailed explanation is given. This observation also explain why the noise reduction achieved by the BBC is superior to that of a LBC.

#### 5.2. Pile Casings

#### 5.2.1. Noise Mitigation Screens

#### 5.2.2. Lightweight Inflatable Fabrics

#### 5.3. Resonator-Type Systems

#### 5.3.1. Hydro-Sound-Dampers (HSD)

- resonant effects of the air-filled balloons and the PE-foam elements fixed in the fishing net. The HSD-elements are adjustable both in terms of diameter and positioning on the net. Thus, they can be tuned in order to achieve optimum noise reduction at frequencies associated with the energy of acoustic waves of specific wavelengths;
- dissipation and material damping effects according to the chosen materials and the injected pressure in the air balloons; and
- reflection of the sound waves at the interface between the water and the fishing net caused by the impedance mismatch (although this mechanism is less efficient in this case compared to the case of a dense air bubble curtain).

#### 5.3.2. Helmholtz Resonators (AdBm-NAS)

#### 5.4. Overview of Mitigation Techniques and Spectral Insertion Loss

- No technique can reduce the noise levels effectively below 20 Hz.
- The noise reduction of all techniques is optimum at frequencies above 200 Hz.
- Only the double BBC and the NMS together with the BBC are capable of reducing the noise levels by more than 20 dB at frequencies ranging from 125 Hz up to 8 kHz. In the other techniques, the noise reduction is usually less and outside the frequency range of interest (>500 Hz).
- The spectral insertion loss depends strongly on the particular location as can be concluded by the application of the same system (BBC) in different projects.

## 6. Future Challenges

- Probabilistic modelling in which the uncertainties in the characterisation of the geometry or the properties of the acousto-elastic region are propagated at larger distances from the pile [155];
- Pile driving noise predictions in range- and/or angular-dependent environments.
- Simultaneous pile progression into the soil with noise prediction in the near-field (nonlinear pile-soil interaction).
- Challenges associated with the modelling of the various noise mitigation systems and demonstration of the efficacy of those systems for piles of larger diameters (8 m) and deeper waters (>45 m).

#### 6.1. Advanced Modelling of the Seabed

^{−1}which reflects the speed of sound waves in the water, while S-wave speeds can be lower than 100 m s

^{−1}for the upper few meters of the seabed [208]. The second group includes the so-called grain-shearing (G-S) models, indented to represent wave propagation in unconsolidated granular media, in which the mineral grains are in contact but unbonded [198,199,200]. This group introduces a frequency dependence in the material properties (phase speeds and attenuation of the waveforms) but is otherwise similar to the classical elastic description above. Models which adopt a solution to the vibroacoustic problem in the frequency domain can typically accommodate such frequency-dependent properties in a straightforward manner [142]. The third group treats the continuum as a poroelastic medium and is based on the well-established theory of Biot [201,202].

#### 6.2. Quantification and Propagation of Uncertainties

#### 6.3. Three-Dimensional Domains and Non-Symmetric Responses

#### 6.4. Pile Progression and Simultaneous Noise Prediction

#### 6.5. Modelling the Noise Mitigation

## 7. Concluding Remarks

- Development of acoustic models suitable for vibro-piling and other installation technologies. Nowadays, all models focus on impact piling since this method is primarily used offshore and generates significant noise pollution. However, in order to reduce the costs, the offshore market will shift towards more silent methods of pile installation. Consequently, the need will arise to provide tools for noise assessment also in those cases.
- Modelling of the various noise mitigation systems to systematically study and optimise their deployment.
- Quantification and propagation of uncertainties in a systematic and computationally efficient manner to allow for sound judgements of the noise levels to be expected in different environments.
- Incorporation of three-dimensional domains and non-symmetric force excitations.
- Integration of the predictions by vibroacoustic models to the work accomplished by the marine biologists to provide unified tools for environmental impact assessment (EIA) studies.

## Acknowledgments

## Conflicts of Interest

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**Figure 1.**Installation of a pile with an impact hammer (

**left**) and with a vibratory device (

**right**) [19]. Source: Author’s personal archive from the Riffgat Offshore Wind Farm (2012).

**Figure 2.**Axisymmetric FE model of pile and water (

**left**). Acoustic pressure surface plots showing the acoustic radiation from the pile at 3, 6, 10 and 16 ms after impact by pile hammer. The propagation direction of the wave front associated with the Mach cones produced in the water and the sediment is indicated by the arrows (

**right**). Reprinted with permission from Reinhall, P.G., Dahl, P.H. Underwater Mach wave radiation from impact pile driving: Theory and observation. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 2011, 130, 1209–1216. Copyright 2011, Acoustic Society of America.

**Figure 3.**Model proposed by Tsouvalas and Metrikine [107] to treat the pile–water–soil interaction and the generation of sound in the seawater. Inner fluid occupies the region ${z}_{0}\le z\le L$ while the outer fluid domain the region ${z}_{1}\le z\le {z}_{2}$. Soil reaction to the pile is represented by distributed spring-dashpot elements attached on the pile surface at ${z}_{2}\le z\le L$. Reprinted from Tsouvalas, A., Metrikine, A.V. A semi-analytical model for the prediction of underwater noise from offshore pile driving. Journal of Sound and Vibration 2013, 332, 3232–3257. Copyright 2013, with permission from Elsevier.

**Figure 4.**Evolution of the particle velocity norm in the seawater ($z\ge 0$ m) and the seabed ($z<0$ m) for several moments in time after the hammer impact using the model by Tsouvalas and Metrikine [115]. In the case analysed, the pile has a diameter of 7 m and a length of 78 m and the seabed consists of a soft upper soil layer overlying a stiffer soil halfspace. The time increases from top to bottom and from left to right.

**Figure 5.**(

**Left**) Representation of the actual pile–water–soil system with the hydraulic hammer and the anvil positioned at the pile head. (

**Right**) Vibroacoustic model to predict noise from impact piling in which the hammer-anvil system is substituted by a force at the pile head [140]. The close-range module is marked in grey colour ($r\le {r}_{0}$). The region outside the grey-shaded volume defines the far-range module ($r\ge {r}_{0}$).

**Figure 6.**(

**a**) Representation of the ring source in cylindrical coordinates; and (

**b**) complex wavenumber plane and definition of the Ewing–Jardetsky–Press (EJP) branch cuts.

**Figure 7.**Impact force in the time domain and corresponding amplitude-frequency characteristic for the case study BARD Offshore I wind farm.

**Figure 8.**Evolution of SEL and ${L}_{p,pk}$ with distance from the pile for the case study analysed in [120] using the model in [140]. The dashed line shows the model predictions for the ${L}_{p,pk}$ and the solid line the predictions for the SEL. Measurement data are also depicted at $r=10$ m and $r=1500$ m together with the measurement error bar ±2 dB. ${\Delta}_{\mathrm{SEL}}$ denotes the difference between predictions and measurements at the given locations.

**Figure 10.**Energy flux at various distances from the pile as predicted using the model by Tsouvalas and Metrikine [115] for the BARD Offshore I wind farm case study. Thin black line: $r=20$ m; thick grey line: $r=60$ m; thick dashed line: $r=140$ m. The light grey shaded area marks the thickness of the loose marine sediment layer (upper 2 m of soil in accordance with Table 2).

**Figure 11.**Dimensionless frequency in which the maximum (normalised) pressure occurs at $r=40$ m as a function of the dimensionless diameter of the pile for ${d}_{f}=6.9$ m. The rest of the parameters are the same as in Table 2.

**Figure 12.**(

**Left**) Air-bubble cloud released by a perforated pile positioned on the seabed. (

**Right**) Double Big Bubble Curtain (DBBC) deployed around the Giant7 floating piling vessel in the Wikinger OWF, Germany. Source: © Hydrotechnik Lübeck GmbH (https://www.hydrotechnik-luebeck.de/blog/portfolio-item/0003-borkumwest2-00/).

**Figure 13.**(

**a**) Influence of bubble size on the wave speed (left) and attenuation (right) in an air-water mixture with constant air–volume fraction ${V}_{a}=0.01$. From black to light grey the radius of the bubbles in the mixture increases gradually, i.e., $0.5$ mm, 1 mm and 5 mm. (

**b**) Influence of the air–volume fraction in the wave speed (left) and attenuation (right) of a bubbly medium consisting of bubbles with a radius of $\alpha =2$ mm. From black to light grey the air–volume fraction increases, i.e., 0.1%, 1% and 5%. Reprinted from Tsouvalas, A.; Metrikine, A. Noise reduction by the application of an air bubble curtain in offshore pile driving. Journal of Sound and Vibration 2016, 371, 150–170. Copyright 2016, with permission from Elsevier.

**Figure 14.**Model proposed by Tsouvalas and Metrikine [188] to treat the case of a system which includes an air bubble curtain, i.e., Region II. Reprinted from Tsouvalas, A.; Metrikine, A. Noise reduction by the application of an air bubble curtain in offshore pile driving. Journal of Sound and Vibration 2016, 371, 150–170. Copyright 2016, with permission from Elsevier.

**Figure 15.**The installation of a 6.5 m pile with the use of a Noise Mitigation Screen (IHC Offshore Systems) at the German offshore wind farm Riffgat in the North Sea. In the left and middle pictures, the NMS is positioned by the crane around the monopile. In the right picture, the hydraulic hammer is positioned at the head of the pile and the NMS is invisible (positioned lower than the deck of the installation vessel). Source: Author’s personal archive from the Riffgat Offshore Wind Farm (2012).

**Figure 16.**(

**Left**) The HSD system with a length of 40 m hanging from the crane. Source: © OffNoise-HSD-Systems GmbH (https://www.offnoise-solutions.com/the-hydro-sound-damper-system-hsd-system/). (

**Right**) The newly developed AdBm-NAS system showing the resonators in the array. © AdBm Technologies (https://adbmtech.com/wp/).

**Figure 17.**Overview of the spectral insertion loss of the different noise mitigation systems [185].

Model | Modelling Approach | Remarks |
---|---|---|

CMST | Close-range: PACSYS [152] Long-range: ORCA [153] | •Axisymmetric model. •Seabed modelled as fluid. •Extension to full 3D possible in the long-range module. |

TUHH | Close-range: ABAQUS [154] Long-range: WI algorithm [94,158] | •Axisymmetric model. •Close-range module includes elasticity of the seabed. • Range- and angular-dependent environments can be included within the all-fluid model approximation in the long-range module. |

JASCO | Close-range: FDTD [100] Long-range: WI algorithm | • Axisymmetric model. • Seabed modelled as fluid. • Simplification of the shell theory with no bending energy stored in the shell surface. |

SNU | Close-range: FE model [160] Long-range: PE model [84] | • Axisymmetric model. • Seabed modelled as fluid. • Range- and angular-dependent environments can be included within the all-fluid model approximation in the long-range module. |

UoS/NPL | Close-range: FE model Long-range: BE model [123] | • Axisymmetric model. • Seabed modelled as fluid. |

AQUARIUS (TNO) | Close-range: FE model [101]; Long-range: NM model [95,101] | • Axisymmetric model. • 3D effects in terms of range-dependent environments through the adoption of adiabatic theory for the normal modes within the all-fluid model approximation in the long-range module. |

SILENCE (TUD) | Close-range: Semi-analytical model [140] (Section 3.3.1) Long-range: Boundary element (BE) model [115] (Section 3.3.2) | • Axisymmetric model including a layered elastic seabed description at both close- and long-range modules. • Range-dependency can be covered within the all-fluid model approximation in the long-range module [163,164]. • Modelling of the air bubble curtain (Section 5.1.1) within the all-fluid model approximation. |

F&R (LUH) | Close-range: 1D driveability model to generate hammer force [135] and FE model to generate the sound field [120] Long-range: PE model [84] | • Axisymmetric model. • Close-range module includes elasticity of the seabed. • 3D effects in terms of varying bathymetry can be included within the all-fluid model approximation in the long-range module. |

Parameter | Pile | Parameter | Fluid | Upper Soil Layer | Bottom Soil Layer |
---|---|---|---|---|---|

Length [m] | 85 | Depth [m] | 40 | 2 | ∞ |

Density [kg/m^{3}] | 7850 | $\rho $ [kg/m^{3}] | 1000 | 1888 | 1908 |

Outer diameter [m] | 3.35 | ${c}_{L}$ [m/s] | 1500 | 1705 | 1725 |

Wall thickness [mm] | 70 | ${c}_{T}$ [m/s] | - | 186 | 370 |

Final penetration depth [m] | 20 | ${\alpha}_{p}$ [ dB/$\lambda $] | - | 0.91 | 0.88 |

Maximum Blow Energy [kJ] | 1370 | ${\alpha}_{s}$ [ dB/$\lambda $] | - | 1.86 | 2.77 |

**Table 3.**Overview of the most widely used noise mitigation systems, their principal mechanism of noise attenuation, and their broadband noise reduction levels. Installed pile data reflect experience gathered until mid 2018.

Mitigation System | Principal Mechanism of Noise Reduction | Number of Piles | ΔSEL |
---|---|---|---|

Big Bubble Curtain | Impedance mismatch between the water and the bubbly medium. Noise reduction depends upon the supplied air–volume, size of the air bubbles, successful encirclement of the radiating source and thickness of the bubble screen, single or double BBC. | >1000 | ∼13 for the single BBC and ∼17 for the double BBC |

Noise Mitigation Screen | Shielding effect around the pile, reflection and absorption of the energy. Noise reduction depends upon the space between the inner and the outer wall, the distance between the pile and the inner screen, the isolation of the outer wall from the ground vibrations, the additional presence of a BBC around the screen. | >400 | ∼12 without the BBC and ∼17 with the BBC |

Hydro-Sound Dampers | Scattering and absorption of the energy from the resonating bubbles and reflection of sound at the HSD-net/water interface. Noise reduction depends upon the number, the size and the configuration of the air balloons and PE-foam elements of the system. The system can be tuned to absorb acoustic energy at certain frequency bandwidths. | >250 | ∼15 |

© 2020 by the author. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

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**MDPI and ACS Style**

Tsouvalas, A.
Underwater Noise Emission Due to Offshore Pile Installation: A Review. *Energies* **2020**, *13*, 3037.
https://doi.org/10.3390/en13123037

**AMA Style**

Tsouvalas A.
Underwater Noise Emission Due to Offshore Pile Installation: A Review. *Energies*. 2020; 13(12):3037.
https://doi.org/10.3390/en13123037

**Chicago/Turabian Style**

Tsouvalas, Apostolos.
2020. "Underwater Noise Emission Due to Offshore Pile Installation: A Review" *Energies* 13, no. 12: 3037.
https://doi.org/10.3390/en13123037