Interactive 3-D Tools for Pipeline Route Planning


With their ability to efficiently provide high-resolution bathymetry with complete coverage over wide swaths of the seafloor, multibeam sonars are increasingly becoming a standard tool for the planning of marine engineering projects such as pipelines and communication cables. In addition to high-resolution bathymetry, most modem multibeam sonar systems also provide sonar backscatter data, an indicator of surficial texture or material type. These data sets are combined with high-resolution seismic, standard sidescan and ground truth (coring or geotechnical) data to allow the marine engineer to make optimal judgments about the route of a submarine pipeline or cable. Huge volumes of data are generated by the different survey systems, often running into hundreds of megabytes. Typically this data is only available to the engineer in the form of a paper atlas with each type of data presented separately. We present a suite of software tools (the Fledermaus Toolkit) designed to present data in a three dimensional visual format, allow its interactive exploration, and to quantitatively interrogate the data within the 3-D space for geographic information and other attributes (depth, gradients, etc.). Cable and pipeline routes are planned interactively by simply drawing the route on the seabed and adjusting the route as needed. Two-dimensional and three-dimensional views of the route are simultaneously available when necessary.


Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping

Publication Date




Journal Title

IEEE Oceans



Conference Date

Oct 6 - Oct 9, 1997

Publisher Place

Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada



Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


Document Type

Conference Proceeding