Multibeam volume acoustic backscatterimagery and reverberation measurements are derived from data collected in 200-m-deep waters in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico, with the Toroidal Volume Search Sonar (TVSS), a 68-kHz cylindrical sonar operated by the U.S. Navy’s Coastal System Station. The TVSS’s 360-degree vertical imaging plane allows simultaneous identification of multiple volume scattering sources and their discrimination from backscatter at the sea surface or the seafloor. This imaging capability is used to construct a three-dimensional representation of a pelagic fish school near the bottom. Scattering layers imaged in the mixed layer and upper thermocline are attributed to assemblages of epipelagic zooplankton. The fine scale patchiness of these scatterers is assessed with the two-dimensional variance spectra of vertical volume scattering strength images in the upper and middle water column. Mean volume reverberation levels exhibit a vertical directionality which is attributed to the volume scattering layers. Boundary echo sidelobe interference and reverberation is shown to be the major limitation in obtaining bioacoustic data with the TVSS. Because net tow and trawl samples were not collected with the acoustic data, the analysis presented is based upon comparison to previous biologic surveys in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico and reference to the bioacoustic literature.


Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping

Publication Date


Journal or Conference Title

Journal of the Acoustical Society of America


112, Issue 2



Publisher Place

Melville, NY, USA


Acoustical Society of America

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


Document Type

Journal Article