Observing natural methane seep variability in the northern Gulf of Mexico with an 18-kilohertz split-beam scientific echosounder


Underwater methane seeps support diverse biological communities on the seafloor and, in cases of bubble survival to the surface, contribute to the quantity of atmospheric methane. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) ship Okeanos Explorer completed two research cruises for seep mapping and characterization in the northern Gulf of Mexico during August and September of 2011 and April of 2012. Seeps originating at depths of approximately 1500 m were observed during multiple transects with a 30-kHz Kongsberg EM 302 multibeam echosounder (MBES) and an 18-kHz Simrad EK60 split-beam scientific echosounder calibrated for backscatter. A methodology for determining vessel offsets for the EK60 using MBES seep observations as benchmarks is discussed as part of a larger framework for transformation of seep targets from the split-beam echosounder reference frame to the geographical reference frame. Utilizing sound speed and attitude data collected for the MBES, several EK60 observations of strong individual seeps are scrutinized for variability of seep position and target strength between 2011 and 2012.


Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping

Publication Date


Journal or Conference Title

Journal of the Acoustical Society of America


133, Issue 5




Acoustical Society of America

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


Document Type

Journal Article