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Predicting spatial variability of sediment properties from hydrographic data for geoacoustic inversion
Siemes, K.; Snellen, M.; Amiri-Simkooei, A.R.; Simons, D.G.; Hermand, J.-P. (2010). Predicting spatial variability of sediment properties from hydrographic data for geoacoustic inversion. IEEE J. Ocean. Eng. 35(4): 766-778.
In: IEEE Journal of Oceanic Engineering. IEEE: New York. ISSN 0364-9059; e-ISSN 1558-1691
Peer reviewed article  

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Author keywords
    Environmental characterization; sea bottom sediments; multibeam echosounder (MBES); single-beam echosounder (SBES); seismic profile

Auteurs  Top 
  • Siemes, K.
  • Snellen, M.
  • Amiri-Simkooei, A.R.
  • Simons, D.G.
  • Hermand, J.-P.

    Seafloor classification using acoustic remote sensing techniques is an attractive approach due to its high coverage capabilities and limited costs compared to taking samples of the seafloor. This paper focuses on the characterization of sediments in a coastal environment by combining different hydrographic systems, which are a multibeam echosounder (MBES), a single-beam echosounder (SBES), and seismic systems. The area is located close to the west coast of Italy, southeast of Elba Island, which is known to be composed of very fine-grained material. Both MBES and SBES are, in general, high-frequency systems (> 100 kHz), providing bathymetry and backscatter information of the upper part of the sea bottom. MBES systems provide this information with a high resolution, due to the beam opening angle of typically 1°–3°, and high coverage. An SBES provides measurements directly underneath the ship only, but is widespread. For the classification by means of MBES data, we use the Bayesian approach, employing backscatter measurements per beam. For the SBES, echo shape parameters are determined and are combined in a principal component analysis (PCA). Both approaches give results that are in very good agreement with respect to the distribution of different surficial sediment types. Complementary, low-frequency seismic systems (<20 kHz) give insight into the sediment layering.Combining the different acoustic approaches is shown to be an essential ingredient for establishing the environmental picture. This picture is of use for a large range of applications, such as habitat mapping, cable laying, or mine hunting. For the current research, it is aimed to act as a basis for selecting areas for subseafloor sediment classification by geoacoustic inversion techniques. Contrary to the hydrographic systems, geoacoustic inversion techniques provide the actual physical properties, i.e., densities, compression and shear wave speeds, and respective attenuations of the sediment body, and allow sediment characterization over large areas without the need to cover the complete area. A validation is given that the environmental picture, obtained by the hydrographic systems, indeed identifies regions with different acoustic properties.

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