Acoustic characterisation of unexploded ordnance disposal in the North Sea using high order detonations

Stephen Paul Robinson* (Corresponding Author), Liang Wang, Sei-Him Cheong, Paul Lepper, John Hartley, Paul Thompson, Ewan William Edwards, Michael Bellmann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
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Results are presented of acoustic measurements made during the disposal of 54 items of unexploded ordnance (UXO) in the North Sea during the pre-construction phase of two offshore windfarms. The disposals were conducted using high-order controlled detonation of donor charges placed on the seabed adjacent to the UXOs. The charge masses ranged from 2.5 kg to 295 kg TNT equivalent, with measurements made at ranges of 1.5 km to 58 km. Such detonations can present a risk of injury or death to marine mammals and other fauna from the high sound levels produced, and these results represent the largest data set of acoustic measurements ever assembled for publication. Acoustic measurements were also made on small scare charges, used as
mitigation. Measured levels are compared to data from a shallow-water propagation model, and widely-adopted exposure level thresholds used for marine mammals, illustrating the potential for injury at distances of several kilometres.
Original languageEnglish
Article number114178
Number of pages14
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Early online date4 Oct 2022
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2022

Bibliographical note

This project was funded by the UK's Department for Business, Energy and Industrial
Strategy’s Offshore Strategic Environmental Assessment programme under contract OESEA-19-107. The authors would like to acknowledge Moray East and EDF Renewables and ESB, joint owners of NnG Offshore Wind, for use of their data. We also thank Moray First Marine for logistic support within the Moray Firth, and Tim Candido Barton, Ruth Molloy and Nathan Merchant for deploying recorders and
processing acoustic data

Data Availability Statement

Data will be made available on request.


  • UXO
  • explosion
  • acoustic
  • noise
  • pollution


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