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A method for generating an acoustic source in a liquid includes transmitting an optical pulse through the liquid so the optical pulse reaches ILIB through pulse compression and ionizes a liquid volume. The pulse compression is achieved through at least one of a) group velocity dispersion induced longitudinal compression of a frequency chirped optical pulse and b) transverse self focusing via a nonlinear optical Kerr effect. The acoustic source can be generated at a controllable remote location many meters from the optical source. The optical source can be a laser or other suitable optical device.