This is a report that documents the preliminary findings of the acoustic monitoring of the construction of the Block Island Wind Farm. These measurements include estimates of particle motion obtained using a tetrahedral hydrophone array, acoustic pressure measurements from the same tetrahedral hydrophone array, a towed hydrophone array, two vertical multiplehydrophone arrays, and a 4-channel geophone array. A preliminary numerical model of the three-dimensional underwater sound propagation in the Block Island Wind Farm area is presented. In addition, analysis of fin whale vocalizations south of Rhode Island that were recorded during the monitoring effort is described.
Many environmental studies have been conducted in Europe in conjunction with pile driving for offshore wind turbine construction. See for example Carstensen et al. (2006), Tougard et al. (2009), Bailey et al. (2010), and Thompson et al. (2013).
Although the United States can leverage lessons learned from these studies, until recently the lack of construction in U.S. waters has hindered the collection of site and activity specific environmental information unique to eastern U.S. offshore areas. The construction of offshore wind facilities in U.S. Federal and state waters provides an opportunity to collect information to address key questions and improve analyses of the environmental effects of offshore wind development. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), a part of the U.S. Department of the Interior, established the program entitled Real-Time Opportunity for Development Environmental Observations (RODEO) to study the environmental effects of the Block Island Wind Farm during construction and operational periods. The program managers at BOEM are Drs. Mary Boatman and Stan Labak. The project is managed for BOEM by HDR, Inc. of Athens, Georgia.
A number of wind farms have been proposed in the waters south of New England. The Block Island Wind Farm (BIWF) is the first offshore wind farm in the United States. A study on the potential environmental effects of the wind farm has been reported. (Miller, et al., 2010). The wind farm consists of five 6-MW wind turbines sited about 5 km southeast of Block Island, Rhode Island. The developer of the BIWF is Deepwater Wind and also has plans for a future 200-turbine development between Block Island and Martha’s Vineyard.
Construction on the foundations of the BIWF started in the summer and fall of 2015. The five lattice jacket foundations were successfully installed in about 28 meters of water. The RODEO team monitored construction of the foundations for visual impacts, air acoustic impacts, and underwater acoustic impacts during the time period from 2 September 2015 through 6 November 2015. In addition, the team detected vocalizations from fin whales and other marine mammals in both time periods.