A time-dependent model of the acoustic intensity backscattered by the seafloor is described and compared with data from a calibrated, vertically oriented, echo-sounder operating at 33 and 93 kHz. The model incorporates the characteristics of the echo-sounder and transmitted pulse, and the water column spreading and absorption losses. Scattering from the water–sediment interface is predicted using Helmholtz–Kirchhoff theory, parametrized by the mean grain size, the coherent reflection coefficient, and the strength and exponent of a power-law roughness spectrum. The composite roughness approach of Jackson et al. [J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 79, 1410–1422 (1986)], modified for the finite duration of the transmitted signal, is used to predict backscatter from subbottom inhomogeneities. It depends on the sediment’s volume scattering and attenuation coefficients, as well as the interface characteristics governing sound transmission into the sediment. Estimation of model parameters (mean grain size, roughness spectrum strength and exponent, volume scattering coefficient) reveals ambiguous ranges for the two spectral components. Analyses of model outputs and of physical measurements reported in the literature yield practical constraints on roughness spectrum parameter settings appropriate for echo-envelope-based sediment classification procedures.


Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping

Publication Date


Journal or Conference Title

Journal of the Acoustical Society of America


114, Issue 5



Publisher Place

Melville, NY, USA


Acoustical Society of America

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


Document Type

Journal Article


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