Primary blast injury (PBI), which relates gross blast-related trauma or traces of injury in air-filled tissues or those tissues adjacent to air-filled regions (rupture/lesions, contusions, hemorrhaging), has been documented in a number of marine mammal species after blast exposure [1, 2, 3]. However, very little is known about marine mammal susceptibility to PBI except in rare cases of opportunistic studies. As a result, traditional techniques rely on analyses using small-scale terrestrial mammals as surrogates for large-scale marine mammals. For an In-house Laboratory Independent Research (ILIR) project sponsored by the Office of Naval Research (ONR), researchers at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center, Division Newport (NUWCDIVNPT), have undertaken a broad 3-year effort to integrate computational fluid-structure interaction techniques with marine mammal anatomical structure. The intent is to numerically simulate the dynamic response of a marine mammal thoracic cavity and air-filled lungs to shock loading, to enhance understanding of marine mammal lungs to shock loading in the underwater environment.

In the absence of appropriate test data from live marine mammals, a crucial part of this work involves code validation to test data for a suitable surrogate test problem. This research employs a surrogate of an air-filled spherical membrane structure subjected to shock loading as a first order approximation to understanding marine mammal lung response to underwater explosions (UNDEX). This approach incrementally improves upon the currently used one-dimensional spherical air bubble approximation to marine mammal lung response by providing an encapsulating boundary for the air. The encapsulating structure is membranous, with minimal simplified representation not accounting for marine mammal species-specific and individual animal differences in tissue composition, rib mechanics, and mechanical properties of interior lung tissue.

NUWCDIVNPT partnered with the Naval Submarine Medical Research Laboratory (NSMRL) to design and execute a set of experiments to investigate the shock response of an air-filled rubber dodgeball in a shallow underwater environment. These tests took place in the 2.13 m (7-ft) diameter pressure tank at the University of Rhode Island, with test measurements including pressure data and digital image correlation (DIC) data captured with high-speed cameras in a stereo setup. The authors developed 3-dimensional computational models of the dodgeball experiments using Dynamic System Mechanics Advanced Simulation (DYSMAS), a Navy fluid-structure interaction code. DYSMAS models of a variety of different problems involving submerged pressure vessel structures responding to hydrostatic and/or UNDEX loading have been validated against test data [4].

Proper validation of fluid structure interaction simulations is quite challenging, requiring measurements in both the fluid and structure domains. This paper details the development of metrics for comparison between test measurements and simulation results, with a discussion of potential sources of uncertainty.

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