Marine Geophysical Researches

, Volume 24, Issue 3–4, pp 311–327 | Cite as

Inhomogeneous substrate analysis using EM300 backscatter imagery

  • Yves Le Gonidec
  • Geoffroy Lamarche
  • Ian C. Wright


Backscatter reflectivity from multibeam echo-sounders provides a powerful tool to efficiently characterize seafloor substrates. A comprehensive EM300 bathymetric and backscatter survey has been completed of Cook Strait, in central New Zealand. This paper presents a detailed analysis of the realtime corrections applied to the raw EM300 multibeam data and additional corrections required to compute angular variations of the backscatter strength. The corrections, including the local absorption coefficient, the influence of seafloor topography and sound refraction in the water column, are determined for different Cook Strait seafloor substrates. Modifying MB-System software code, we extracted the backscatter signal parameters in order to quantify the raw backscatter strength and apply additional processing. Profiles of backscatter strength versus incidence angle were computed for a variety of sites characterized by flat seafloor and homogeneous substrates, and for which ground-truth data were available. For each homogeneous site, different but characteristic backscatter profiles are observed that can be interpreted in terms of sediment facies. To analyze heterogeneous substrates, we present a statistical technique, based on a 3-dimensional distribution of (incidence angle, backscatter strength) couples that preserves geological information of the substrate components. This analysis, using backscatter data acquired on a submarine volcano, north of New Zealand, clearly differentiates soft sediments and lava flows within a heterogeneous substrate.


backscatter Cook Strait EM300 multibeam reflectivity seafloor characterization substrate 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yves Le Gonidec
    • 1
    • 2
  • Geoffroy Lamarche
    • 1
  • Ian C. Wright
    • 1
  1. 1.National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA)WellingtonNew Zealand
  2. 2.Géosciences AzurVillefranche-sur-MerFrance

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