US UNCLOS Multibeam Data: The Processing of Multibeam Bathymetry and Backcatter


Processing bathymetry and backscatter from four different multi-beam echosounder systems for US Law of the Sea concerns has required careful thought to ensure the highest quality and uniform treatment of the data. Special attention has been applied to the backscatter because it represents the acoustic response of the geology of the sea floor.

The Center for Coastal &OceanMapping-Joint Hydrographic Center (CCOM-JHC), University of New Hampshire is in charge of acquiring multi-beam bathymetry of US margins for any potential claims of extended continental shelves under Article 76 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. The data have been collected using Simrad EM120 and EM121A, Reson 8150 and SeaBeam 2112 multi-beam echosounders (MBES). More than a million square kilometres have been mapped in the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, Arctic, Bering Sea, Gulf of Alaska and in the western Pacific. Although bathymetry is the primary objective of each cruise, acoustic backscatter is readily available from each of the MBES systems, so these data are also processed. Processing this immense amount of data has required careful thought, resulting in standardised processing streams. The discussion below is a synopsis of those processing streams.


Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping

Publication Date




Journal Title

Hydro International



Publisher Place

Lemmers, Amsterdam, The Netherlands


Geomares Publishing

Document Type

Journal Article