Predicted Seafloor Facies of Central Santa Monica Bay, California


Mapping surficial seafloor facies (sand, silt, muddy sand, rock, etc.) should be the first step in marine geological studies and is crucial when modeling sediment processes, pollution transport, deciphering tectonics, and defining benthic habitats. This report outlines an empirical technique that predicts the distribution of seafloor facies for a large area offshore Los Angeles, CA using high-resolution bathymetry and co-registered, calibrated backscatter from multibeam echosounders (MBES) correlated to ground-truth sediment samples. The technique uses a series of procedures that involve supervised classification and a hierarchical decision tree classification that are now available in advanced image-analysis software packages. Derivative variance images of both bathymetry and acoustic backscatter are calculated from the MBES data and then used in a hierarchical decision-tree framework to classify the MBES data into areas of rock, gravelly muddy sand, muddy sand, and mud. A quantitative accuracy assessment on the classification results is performed using ground-truth sediment samples. The predicted facies map is also ground-truthed using seafloor photographs and high-resolution sub-bottom seismic-reflection profiles.

This Open-File Report contains the predicted seafloor facies map as a georeferenced TIFF image along with the multibeam bathymetry and acoustic backscatter data used in the study as well as an explanation of the empirical classification process.


Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping

Publication Date



Open-File Report 2004-1081


U.S. Geological Survey

Document Type