The waveforms recorded by airborne lidar bathymetry (ALB) systems are currently processed only for depth information. In addition to bathymetry, multibeam echo sounder (MBES) systems provide backscatter data in which regions of different acoustic properties are distinguishable. These regions can often be correlated to different bottom types. Initial attempts to extract equivalent data from the ALB waveforms have confirmed the expectation that such information is encoded in those waveforms. Water clarity, bathymetry, and bottom type control the detailed shapes of ALB waveforms in different ways. Specific features of a bottom-reflected signal can be identified, for example its rise-time and amplitude, and used for clustering and classifying the individual data points. Two data sets from Lake Tahoe are available for comparison: ALB data from the SHOALS (scanning hydrographic operational airborne lidar survey) system of the US Army Corps of Engineers, and Simrad EM1000 MBES data from the USGS. Feature extraction, clustering, and classification of the SHOALS data reveals changes in the optical bottom reflectance characteristics that are echoed in the acoustic bottom backscatter properties.


Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping

Publication Date


Journal or Conference Title

EOS Transactions, American Geophysical Union


83, Issue 47

Conference Date

Dec 6 - Dec 10, 2002

Publisher Place

San Francisco, CA, USA


American Geophysical Union Publications

Document Type