A MERMAID Miscellany: Seismoacoustic Signals beyond the P Wave

Joel D. Simon*, Frederik J. Simons, Jessica C. E. Irving

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
33 Downloads (Pure)


Mobile Earthquake Recorder in Marine Areas by Independent Divers (MERMAID) is a passively drifting oceanic diving float that transmits acoustic pressure records from global earthquakes within hours or days of their rupture. The onboard algorithm used for the detection and identification of signals from the hydrophone prioritizes the recovery of ∼1 Hz teleseismic P waves, which are useful for seismic imaging of Earth’s mantle. Two years into a mission that launched 50 MERMAIDs to map 3D mantle wavespeed anomalies with high resolution under the Pacific in French Polynesia, it is clear that the data returned contain much information beyond the first‐arriving seismic P phases. These include acoustic conversions from S waves, surface waves, T waves, and inner‐ and outer‐core phases, generated by earthquakes heard across the globe—and sounds from otherwise unidentified events occurring in remote and uninstrumented parts of the world’s oceans. Our growing database of automatically accumulating ∼240 s long‐triggered segments contains a treasure trove for geophysicists interested in seismology beyond P‐wave tomography. Furthermore, equipped with two‐way communication capabilities, MERMAID can entertain requests to deliver data from its 1 yr buffer. In this article, we highlight the data classes and categories in MERMAID’s “extended‐utility” catalog.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3657-3667
Number of pages11
JournalSeismological Research Letters
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Part of this work was supported by the National Science Foundation (DGE-1656466 to J. D. S., and OCE-1917058 and EAR-1644399 to F. J. S. and J. C. E. I.). The authors commend Ifremer, Genavir, and Commander Jean-François Barazer and his crew aboard the research Vessel (R/V) Alis for a seamless series of Mobile Earthquake Recorder in Marine Areas by Independent Divers (MERMAID) deployments in the South Pacific (see Data and Resources). The authors thank Editor-in-Chief Allison Bent and two anonymous reviewers whose comments greatly improved this article.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Seismological Society of America. All rights reserved.


  • hydroacoustics
  • seismoacoustics
  • seismic tomography
  • body waves
  • surface waves
  • core phases


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