Models of acoustic backscatter typically take into account two different processes: interface scattering and volume scattering. What happens to these two contributions when the sediment is charged with gas bubbles? For the interface backscatter contribution we adopted the model developed by Jackson et al. (1986), but added modifications to accommodate gas bubbles, which when present, even in very small quantities, can dominate the acoustic characteristics of the sediment. The model parameters that are affected by gas content are the density ratio, the sound speed ratio and the loss parameter. To a first approximation, the model roughness parameters are not influenced by the presence of gas. For the volume backscatter contribution we developed a model based on the presence and distribution of gas in the sediment. We treat the bubbles as individual point scatters that sum to the bubble contribution. This bubble contribution is then added to the volume contribution of other scatters. A potential area to test the ideas outlined above is the highly sedimented, tectonically active, Eel River margin offshore Northern California. This continental margin reveals evidence of abundant subsurface gas and numerous seafloor expulsion features, where a large volume of marine data has been acquired as part of the STRATAFORM project. Two different sets of multibeam backscatter data acquired at 30kHz and 95kHz provide raw measurements for the backscatter as a function of grazing angle. These raw backscatter measurements are then radiometrically corrected in order to be compared with the results of the proposed model. Radiometric corrections include the removal of the time varying and angle varying gains applied during acquisition, calculation of the true grazing angle with respect to a bathymetric model, and correction for footprint size. Results of core data analysis at various sampling locations provide local measurements of gas content in the sediments that when compared to the model show general agreement.


Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping

Publication Date


Journal or Conference Title

Fall Meeting, American Geophysical Union (AGU)


81, Issue 48

Conference Date

Dec 15 - Dec 19, 2000

Publisher Place

San Francisco, CA, USA


American Geophysical Union Publications

Document Type