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Quantitative characterisation of seafloor substrate and bedforms using advanced processing of multibeam backscatter; application to Cook Strait, New Zealand



Quantitative characterisation of seafloor substrate and bedforms using advanced processing of multibeam backscatter; application to Cook Strait, New Zealand



Continental Shelf Research 31.2, Suppl.



A comprehensive EM300 multibeam echo-sounder dataset acquired from Cook Strait, New Zealand, is used to develop a regional-scale objective characterisation of the seafloor. Sediment samples and high-resolution seismic data are used for ground-truthing. SonarScope(R) software is used to process the data, including signal corrections from sensor bias, specular reflection compensation and speckle noise filtering aiming at attenuating the effects of recording equipment, seafloor topography, and water column. The processing is completed by correlating a quantitative description (the Generic Seafloor Acoustic Backscatter-GSAB model) with the backscatter data. The calibrated Backscattering Strength (BS) is used to provide information on the physical characteristics of the seafloor. The imagery obtained from the BS statistical compensation is used for qualitative interpretation only; it helps characterizing sediment facies variations as well as geological and topographic features such as sediment waves and erosional bedforms, otherwise not recognised with the same level of detail using conventional surveying. The physical BS angular response is a good indicator of the sediment grain size and provides a first-order interpretation of the substrate composition. BS angular response for eight reference areas in the Narrows Basin are selected and parameterised using the GSAB model, and BS angular profiles for gravelly, sandy, and muddy seafloors are used as references for inferring the grain size in the reference areas. We propose to use the calibrated BS at 45 degrees incidence angle (BS(45) ) and the Specular-To-Oblique Contrast (STOC) as main global descriptors of the seafloor type. These two parameters enable global backscatter studies by opposition to compensated imagery whose intensity is not comparable from one zone to the other. The results obtained highlight the interest of BS measurements for seafloor remote sensing in a context of habitat-mapping applications.

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Accession: 037137549

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DOI: 10.1016/j.csr.2010.06.001


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