This study presents a novel approach, based on high-dimensionality hydro-acoustic data, for improving the performance of angular response analysis (ARA) on multibeam backscatter data in terms of acoustic class separation and spatial resolution. This approach is based on the hyper-angular cube (HAC) data structure which offers the possibility to extract one angular response from each cell of the cube. The HAC consists of a finite number of backscatter layers, each representing backscatter values corresponding to single-incidence angle ensonifications. The construction of the HAC layers can be achieved either by interpolating dense soundings from highly overlapping multibeam echo-sounder (MBES) surveys (interpolated HAC, iHAC) or by producing several backscatter mosaics, each being normalized at a different incidence angle (synthetic HAC, sHAC). The latter approach can be applied to multibeam data with standard overlap, thus minimizing the cost for data acquisition. The sHAC is as efficient as the iHAC produced by actual soundings, providing distinct angular responses for each seafloor type. The HAC data structure increases acoustic class separability between different acoustic features. Moreover, the results of angular response analysis are applied on a fine spatial scale (cell dimensions) offering more detailed acoustic maps of the seafloor. Considering that angular information is expressed through high-dimensional backscatter layers, we further applied three machine learning algorithms (random forest, support vector machine, and artificial neural network) and one pattern recognition method (sum of absolute differences) for supervised classification of the HAC, using a limited amount of ground truth data (one sample per seafloor type). Results from supervised classification were compared with results from an unsupervised method for inter-comparison of the supervised algorithms. It was found that all algorithms (regarding both the iHAC and the sHAC) produced very similar results with good agreement (>0.5 kappa) with the unsupervised classification. Only the artificial neural network required the total amount of ground truth data for producing comparable results with the remaining algorithms.
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