, Volume 5, Issue 4, pp 365-388

Side-scan sonar mapping and computer-aided interpretation in the Santa Barbara Channel, California

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We have experimented with digital processing of side scan sonar data taken in a 14 sq-km area of continental shelf offshore Southern California. The data were FM tape recorded during the survey and digitized and processed later in the laboratory. The digital image processing included both image correction and image enhancement. Geometric corrections were applied to correct for image distortions due to variable ship position and speed and sonar slant range. Enhancements that were tried included contrast stretching, band-pass filtering, image restoration (inverse filtering), and various edge enhancements such as density slicing and standard deviation filters. Interpretive procedures were also attempted and included digital mosaicking, stereoscopic viewing, and falsecolor display. The most effective processing was geometric correction combined with contrast stretching. Mosaicking proved difficult due to imprecise navigation (±50 m), but was very effective in increasing the understanding of the geologic structure in the survey area.