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Data Series 938

Prepared in cooperation with the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative

Seismic Data Collection from Water Gun and Industrial Background Sources in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal Area, Illinois, 2011

By William S. Morrow, Philip J. Carpenter, and Ryan F. Adams

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (1.33 MB)Abstract

The water gun is a tool adapted from deep marine geophysical surveys that is being evaluated for use as an acoustic fish deterrent to control the movement of invasive marine species. The water gun creates a seismic signal by using a compressed air discharge to move a piston rapidly within the water, resulting in an implosion. This energy pulse may be able to modify fish behavior or destroy marine life, such as the Asian carp, at some distance. The effects of this energy pulse on structures in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal (CSSC), such as canal walls, shore lines, and lock structures, are not known. The potential effects of the use of a water gun on structures was identified as a concern in the CSSC and was assessed relative to existing background sources during this study. During September 2011, two water guns with piston sizes of 80 and 343 cubic inches, respectively, were tested in the CSSC at varying pressures and distances from a canal wall consisting of dolomite and dolomite setblock. Seismic data were collected during these water gun firings using geophones on land, in boreholes, and at the canal wall interface. Data were collected at varying depths in the canal water using hydrophones. Seismic data were also collected during the occurrences of barge traffic, railroad traffic located near the electric fish barrier in Lemont, and coal-loading operations at a coal power plant near the electric fish barrier. In general, energy produced by barge and railroad sources was less than energy created by the water gun. Energy levels produced by coal-loading operations at least 200 feet from geophones were approximately four times lower than energy levels measured during water gun operations.

First posted June 11, 2015

  • Downloads Directory
    Contains water gun and industrial background data files that were collected in September, October, and November 2011.

    Seismic data can be accessed through standard geophysical software capable of reading SEG-2 files. Software capable of reading SEG-2 format is also freely available and documented in U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Open-File Report 03-141 (Ellefsen, 2003), available at

    Other open-source software, such as Geopsy​ ​(available at ​​​,​ are available to read SEG-2 formatted data.

For additional information, contact:
Director, llinois Water Science Center
U.S. Geological Survey
405 N. Goodwin Avenue
Urbana, IL 61801

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Suggested citation:

Morrow, W.S., Carpenter, P.J., and Adams, R.F., 2015, Seismic data collection from water guns and industrial background sources in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal Area, Illinois, 2011: U.S. Geological Survey Data Series 938, 23 p.,

ISSN 2327-638X (online)







References Cited

Appendix 1. Seismic Data, Data-collection Equipment, and Borehole Characteristics for the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal (CSSC)

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