This paper examines the potential for remote classification of seafloor terrains using a combination of quantitative acoustic backscatter measurements and high resolution bathymetry derived from two classes of sonar systems currently used by the marine research community: multibeam echo-sounders and bathymetric sidescans sonar systems. The high-resolution bathymetry is important, not only to determine the topography of the area surveyed, but to provide accurate bottom slope corrections needed to convert the arrival angles of the seafloor echoes received by the sonars into true angles of incidence. An angular dependence of seafloor acoustic backscatter can then be derived for each region surveyed, making it possible to construct maps of acoustic backscattering strength in geographic coordinates over the areas of interest. Such maps, when combined with the high-resolution bathymetric maps normally compiled from the data output by the above sonar systems, could be very effective tools to quantify bottom types on a regional basis, and to develop automatic seafloor classification routines.
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De Moustier, C., Matsumoto, H. Seafloor acoustic remote sensing with multibeam echo-sounders and bathymetric sidescan sonar systems. Mar Geophys Res 15, 27–42 (1993). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01204150