Remote estimation of surficial seafloor properties through the application Angular Range Analysis to multibeam sonar data


The variation of the backscatter strength with the angle of incidence is an intrinsic property of the seafloor, which can be used in methods for acoustic seafloor characterization. Although multibeam sonars acquire backscatter over a wide range of incidence angles, the angular information is normally neglected during standard backscatter processing and mosaicking. An approach called Angular Range Analysis has been developed to preserve the backscatter angular information, and use it for remote estimation of seafloor properties. Angular Range Analysis starts with the beam-by-beam time-series of acoustic backscatter provided by the multibeam sonar and then corrects the backscatter for seafloor slope, beam pattern, time varying and angle varying gains, and area of insonification. Subsequently a series of parameters are calculated from the stacking of consecutive time series over a spatial scale that approximates half of the swath width. Based on these calculated parameters and the inversion of an acoustic backscatter model, we estimate the acoustic impedance and the roughness of the insonified area on the seafloor. In the process of this inversion, the behavior of the model parameters is constrained by established inter-property relationships. The approach has been tested using a 300 kHz Simrad EM3000 multibeam sonar in Little Bay, NH. Impedance estimates are compared to in situ measurements of sound speed. The comparison shows a very good correlation, indicating the potential of this approach for robust seafloor characterization.


Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping

Publication Date


Journal or Conference Title

Marine Geophysical Research





Publisher Place

New York, NY



Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


Document Type

Journal Article