Sound Images of the Ocean
in Research and Monitoring
Peter C. Wille
Springer, 2005, 471 pages
July 4, 2008
f you're looking for light summer reading at the beach this Fourth of July, you can't do better than Sound Images of the Ocean. Dr. Peter Wille, a professor and former director of the FWG or Forschungsanstalt der Bundeswehr für Wasserschall und Geophysik (German Armed Forces Institute for Underwater Acoustics and Geophysics), has gathered some of the most beautiful pseudocolor sonar images of ocean floor topography, made by 120 oceanographers around the globe, and turned them into a readable book that would be both educational and inspiring to anyone interested in the geology of the sea floor.
Wille tries to keep the writing at a very basic level, with no mathematics (and indeed, hardly any numbers of any kind), so that the result would be understandable to anyone with an interest in geology. Unfortunately, he went overboard, so to speak, and we end up with a lot of awkward sentences full of German idioms. A minor annoyance is that hundreds of ordinary words are italicized, seemingly at random, including words like physics, Germany, nineties, and steel, as if they were strange terms the reader would not be expected to know. Wille focuses exclusively on the geology rather than the acoustics. For readers more interested in sound waves, Acoustical Oceanography by Medwin and Clay provides the much greater technical detail that is missing here.
Nevertheless, the book is filled with beautiful images of the seafloor terrain, created by sonar imaging techniques. These are in chapters 5 to 7, which cover natural formations of the sea floor, the ocean volume, and marine archaeology and shipwrecks. In these chapters, the writing benefited from the assistance of an editor. It is also slightly more technical, though still accessible to a layperson.
The included CD contains a handful of rotatable 3D images, a 3D viewer, two WAV files of earthquakes, and a WAV file of a nuclear explosion.