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Toward remote seafloor classification using the angular response of acoustic backscattering: a case study from multiple overlapping GLORIA data

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1 Author(s)
J. Hughes Clarke ; Ocean Mapping Group, New Brunswick Univ., Fredericton, NB, Canada

While the average seafloor backscatter strength within a narrow range of grazing angles can be used as a first-order classification tool, this technique often fails to distinguish seafloors of known differing geological character. In order to resolve such ambiguities, it is necessary to examine the variation in backscatter strength as a function of grazing angle. For this purpose, a series of multiply overlapping GLORIA sidescan sonar images (6.5 kHz) have been obtained in water depths ranging from 1000 to 2500 m. To constrain the placement of acoustic backscatter measurements and to measure the true impinging angle of the incident wave, the corresponding seafloor was simultaneously surveyed using the Seabeam multibeam system. As a result of the multiple overlap, the angular response of seafloor backscatter strength may be derived for regions much smaller than the swath width. By using the derived angular response of seafloor backscatter strength in regions for which sediment samples exist, an empirical seafloor classification scheme is proposed based on the shape, variance, and magnitude of the angular response. Because of the observed variability in the shape of the angular response with differing seafloor types, routine normalization of single-pass swath data to an equivalent single grazing angle image cannot be achieved. As a result, for the case of single-pass surveys, confident seafloor classification may only be possible for regions approaching the scale of the swath width

Published in:

IEEE Journal of Oceanic Engineering  (Volume:19 ,  Issue: 1 )