Seismic data collection from water gun and industrial background sources in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal area, Illinois, 2011

Data Series 938
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  • More information: USGS Index Page
  • Document: Report (1.33 MB pdf)
  • Companion File: 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.
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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.

Study Area

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Seismic data collection from water gun and industrial background sources in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal area, Illinois, 2011
Series title Data Series
Series number 938
DOI 10.3133/ds938
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Illinois Water Science Center
Description Report: iv, 23 p.; Downloads Directory
Country United States
State Illinois
City Chicago
Other Geospatial Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details