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The use of Sediment Profile Imaging (SPI) for environmental impact assessments and monitoring studies: lessons learned from the past four decades
Germano, J.D.; Valente, R.M.; Carey, D.A.; Solan, M. (2011). The use of Sediment Profile Imaging (SPI) for environmental impact assessments and monitoring studies: lessons learned from the past four decades. Oceanogr. Mar. Biol. Ann. Rev. 49: 235-298
In: Oceanography and Marine Biology: An Annual Review. Aberdeen University Press/Allen & Unwin: London. ISSN 0078-3218; e-ISSN 2154-9125, meer
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  • Germano, J.D.
  • Valente, R.M.
  • Carey, D.A.
  • Solan, M.

Abstract
    Sediment profile imaging (SPI) technology has been used in some form since 1969 to investigate the structure and appearance of near-surface aquatic sediments. The recognition of patterns in images and their relationship to seafloor processes mediated by biological, physical and chemical interactions was pioneered by academic scientists interested in sedimentary structures and evidence of biological communities in the geological record. The application of SPI technology to environmental assessment coincided with the development and testing of a robust theory of marine benthic community responses to disturbance in fine sedimentary habitats. The patterns visible in the images of seafloor sediments were related to processes associated with the recolonization of disturbed fine sediments through manipulation experiments and field observations. Association of these patterns with stages in the recovery of disturbed habitats provided the basis for SPI as a tool for environmental assessment and monitoring surveys. After almost 40 years of application of SPI technology to environmental assessment and monitoring, we are in a position to summarize the strengths and weaknesses of this technology. This review describes the history of instrument development and image interpretation, discusses the technical limitations and advantages of the method, summarizes the range of applications of SPI technology, and considers possible future directions for the technology, supporting theory, and application.

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