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User expectations for multibeam echo sounders backscatter strength data-looking back into the future

Abstract

With the ability of multibeam echo sounders (MBES) to measure backscatter strength (BS) as a function of true angle of insonification across the seafloor, came a new recognition of the potential of backscatter measurements to remotely characterize the properties of the seafloor. Advances in transducer design, digital electronics, signal processing capabilities, navigation, and graphic display devices, have improved the resolution and particularly the dynamic range available to sonar and processing software manufacturers. Alongside these improvements the expectations of what the data can deliver has also grown. In this paper, we identify these user-expectations and explore how MBES backscatter is utilized by different communities involved in marine seabed research at present, and the aspirations that these communities have for the data in the future. The results presented here are based on a user survey conducted by the GeoHab (Marine Geological and Biological Habitat Mapping) association. This paper summarises the different processing procedures employed to extract useful information from MBES backscatter data and the various intentions for which the user community collect the data. We show how a range of backscatter output products are generated from the different processing procedures, and how these results are taken up by different scientific disciplines, and also identify common constraints in handling MBES BS data. Finally, we outline our expectations for the future of this unique and important data source for seafloor mapping and characterisation.

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Fig. 1

Source: Web of Science

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Source: Scopus

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Source: Web of Science

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Image adapted from National Instruments Tutorial http://www.ni.com/tutorial/14705/en/ last accessed 09/03/2017

Fig. 7

Source: Chap. 3 in Lurton and Lamarche (2015)

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Figure from Fonseca and Mayer (2007a, b)

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Data from EM710 of RV Atalante (Ifremer), BS processed with Ifremer SonarScope® software (from Jean-Marie Augustin, unpublished)

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Acknowledgements

V. Lucieer was supported by the Marine Biodiversity Hub through funding from the Australian Government’s National Environmental Science Programme. The authors wish to acknowledge the two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments and to X. Lurton for his edits, which have substantially improved this manuscript.

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Correspondence to Vanessa Lucieer.

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Lucieer, V., Roche, M., Degrendele, K. et al. User expectations for multibeam echo sounders backscatter strength data-looking back into the future. Mar Geophys Res 39, 23–40 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11001-017-9316-5

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Keywords

  • Multibeam acoustics
  • Backscatter
  • Habitat mapping
  • Marine geology
  • Seafloor facies