A sediment geoacoustic parameter estimation technique is described which compares bottom returns, measured by a calibrated monostatic sonar oriented within 15° of vertical and having a 10°–21° beamwidth, with an echo envelope model based on high-frequency (10–100 kHz) incoherent backscattertheory and sediment properties such as: mean grain size, strength, and exponent of the power law characterizing the interface roughness energy density spectrum, and volume scattering coefficient. An average echo envelope matching procedure iterates on the reflection coefficient to match the peak echo amplitude and separate coarse from fine-grain sediments, followed by a global optimization using a combination of simulated annealing and downhill simplex searches over mean grain size, interface roughness spectral strength, and sediment volume scattering coefficient. Error analyses using Monte Carlo simulations validate this optimization procedure. Moderate frequencies (33 kHz) and orientations normal with the interface are best suited for this application. Distinction between sands and fine-grain sediments is demonstrated based on acoustic estimation of mean grain size alone. The creation of feature vectors from estimates of mean grain size and interface roughness spectral strength shows promise for intraclass separation of silt and clay. The correlation between estimated parameters is consistent with what is observed in situ.


Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping

Publication Date



114, Issue 5

Journal Title

Journal of the Acoustical Society of America



Publisher Place

Melville, NY, USA


Acoustical Society of America

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


Document Type

Journal Article