The limits of spatial resolution achievable using a 30kHz multibeam sonar: model predictions and field results


A Simrad EM300 multibeam sonar was used to attempt to resolve small (/spl sim/5 m high) targets in 450 m of water. The targets had previously been surveyed using a deeply towed 59 kHz sidescan sonar. Using multisector active yaw, pitch and roll compensation, together with dynamically altering angular sectors, the sonar is capable of maintaining sounding densities of as tight as 10 m spacing in these water depths. This is significantly smaller than the largest dimension of the projected beam footprints (16-64 m). The observed data suggest that the targets are intermittently resolved. The field results compare well to the output of a numerical model which reproduces the imaging geometry. Possible variations in the imaging geometry are implemented in the model, comparing equiangular and equidistant beam spacings, differing angular sectors and all the different combinations of transmit and receive beam widths that are available for this model of sonar. While amplitude detection is significantly aliased by targets smaller than the across track beam footprint, under conditions where the signal to noise ratio is favorable, phase detection can be used to reduce the minimum size of target observed to about the scale of the across track beam width. Thus having the beam spacing at the scale is justifiable. The phase distortion due to smaller targets, however, is generally averaged out.


Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping

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OCEANS 98, Nice, Conference Proceedings



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Conference Proceeding