Backscatter vs. grazing angle, which can be extracted from multibeam backscatter data, depends on characteristics of the multibeam system and the angular responses of backscatter that are characteristic of different seafloor properties, such as sediment hardness and roughness. Changes in backscatter vs. grazing angle that are contributed by the multibeam system normally remain fixed over both space and time. Therefore, they can readily be determined and removed from backscatter data. The component of backscatter vs. grazing angle due to the properties of sediments varies from location to location, as the sediment changes. The sediment component of variability can be inferred using the redundant observations from different grazing angles in several small sections of seafloor assuming that the sediment property is uniform in any given section of seafloor yet varies from one section of the seafloor to another. The multibeam data used in this research is from the ONR sponsored STRATAFORM project. The location of the study area was the mid-outer continental shelf off New Jersey. A small subset (11 x 17 km) of the NJ multibeam survey was selected and divided into 1380 equal working cells. The backscatter vs. grazing angle dependence for each cell was computed by averaging backscatter data by the corresponding grazing angles using all data with the same grazing angle from different survey lines. Taking into account the effects of local topographic variations of the seabed, the estimated grazing angle for each beam has been computed from available adjacent soundings within a 15-meter radius using a least squares fit with a Butterfly weighting function. A graphic interface was developed to ease evaluation of the spatial variation of backscatter vs. grazing angle. With a mouse click, images based on different subsets of the data can be compared throughout the survey area. The subsets were created from specific grazing angles. These images show significant variations between nadir and off-nadir beams. Variations apparent in the images may provide some indication of the sediment (or seafloor) characteristics, which can be compared to ground truth data (sediment grain size) and measured values such as velocity and density.

Publication Date


Journal or Conference Title

Fall Meeting, American Geophysical Union (AGU)


83, Issue 47

Conference Date

Dec 6 - Dec 10, 2002

Publisher Place

San Francisco, CA, USA


American Geophysical Union Publications

Document Type