Attributes derived from digital bathymetric models (DBM) are a powerful means of analyzing seabed characteristics. Those models however are inherently constrained by the method of seabed sampling. Most bathymetric models are derived by collating a number of discrete corridors of multibeam sonar data. Within each corridor the data are collected over a wide range of distances, azimuths and elevation angles and thus the quality varies significantly. That variability therefore becomes imprinted into the DBM. Subsequent users of the DBM, unfamiliar with the original acquisition geometry, may potentially misinterpret such variability as attributes of the seabed. This paper examines the impact on accuracy and resolution of the resultant derived model as a function of the imaging geometry. This can be broken down into the range, angle, azimuth, density and overlap attributes. These attributes in turn are impacted by the sonar configuration including beam widths, beam spacing, bottom detection algorithms, stabilization strategies, platform speed and stability. Superimposed over the imaging geometry are residual effects due to imperfect integration of ancillary sensors. As the platform (normally a surface vessel), is moving with characteristic motions resulting from the ocean wave spectrum, periodic residuals in the seafloor can become imprinted that may again be misinterpreted as geomorphological information.
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