Application of an acoustic backscatter technique for characterizing the roughness of porous soil

Michael L. Oelze, James M. Sabatier, Richard Raspet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


An acoustic backscatter technique proposed by Oelze et al. [J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 109, 1826-1832 (2001)] was used to characterize the roughness of porous soil surfaces. Roughness estimation errors are minimized when the effective flow resistivity of the porous soil is high, e.g., above 300 000 mks Rayls/m. Four soil plots were constructed by roughening soil with farming implements. Three plots were sealed using Saran powder dissolved in methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) and then covered to prevent further weathering. A fourth plot was left in the open and exposed to rainfall, which also acted to seal the surface and further change the roughness. In sealing the surface the effective flow resistivity of the surface was increased above 300 000 mks Rayls/m, which is typical for weathered agricultural surfaces. The roughness power spectra of the soil surfaces were measured by acoustic backscatter and alternatively by a laser profiler. Regression analysis was used to approximate each roughness power spectrum versus roughness wave number with a best-fit line. The best-fit line was used to calculate the rms height and the correlation length of the rough surface by integrating the approximate roughness power spectrum over a range of roughness wave number values. The range of roughness wave number values defines the roughness length scales used in the statistical calculations. High-roughness wave numbers correspond to smaller length scales of roughness and low-roughness wave numbers correspond to larger length scales of roughness. Over certain ranges of roughness wave number values the statistics from the acoustic backscatter and laser profiler measurements is in good agreement. However, as the low-cutoff roughness wave number is decreased and the high-cutoff roughness wave number is increased, agreement between the laser and acoustic techniques diminishes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1565-1577
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics


Dive into the research topics of 'Application of an acoustic backscatter technique for characterizing the roughness of porous soil'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this