In its standard mode of operation, the multibeam echosounder Sea Beam produces high resolution bathymetric contour charts of the seafloor surveyed. However, additional information about the nature of the seafloor can be extracted from the structure of the echo signals received by the system. Such signals have been recorded digitally over a variety of seafloor environments for which independent observations from bottom photographs or sidescan sonars were available. An attempt is made to relate the statistical properties of the bottom‐backscattered sound field to the independently observed geologicalcharacteristics of the seafloor surveyed. Acoustic boundary mapping over flat areas is achieved by following trend changes in the acoustic data both along and across track. Such changes in the acoustics are found to correlate with changes in bottom type or roughness structure. The overall energy level of a partial angular‐dependence function of backscattering appears to depend strongly on bottom type, whereas the shape of the function does not. Clues to the roughness structure of the bottom are obtained by relating the shape of the probability density function of normal‐incidence echo envelopes to the degree of coherence in the backscattered acoustic field.


Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping

Publication Date


Journal or Conference Title

Journal of the Acoustical Society of America


79, No. 2



Publisher Place

Melville, NY, USA


Acoustical Society of America

Document Type

Journal Article


Copyright 1986 Acoustical Society of America