In Situ Quantitative Characterisation of the Ocean Water Column Using Acoustic Multibeam Backscatter Data

TitleIn Situ Quantitative Characterisation of the Ocean Water Column Using Acoustic Multibeam Backscatter Data
Publication TypeConference Abstract
AuthorsLamarche, G, Le Gonidec, Y, Lucieer, V, Lurton, X, Greinert, J, Dupré, S, Nau, A, Heffron, E, Roche, M, Ladroit, Y, Urban, P
Conference Name2017 Fall Meeting, American Geophysical Union (AGU)
Conference LocationNew Orleans, LA
Conference DatesDecember 11-15
Keywordsseep, water column, WCIWG

Detecting liquid, solid or gaseous features in the ocean is generating considerable interest in the geoscience community, because of their potentially high economic values (oil & gas, mining), their significance for environmental management (oil/gas leakage, biodiversity mapping, greenhouse gas monitoring) as well as their potential cultural and traditional values (food, freshwater). Enhancing people's capability to quantify and manage the natural capital present in the ocean water goes hand in hand with the development of marine acoustic technology, as marine echosounders provide the most reliable and technologically advanced means to develop quantitative studies of water column backscatter data. This is not developed to its full capability because (i) of the complexity of the physics involved in relation to the constantly changing marine environment, and (ii) the rapid technological evolution of high resolution multibeam echosounder (MBES) water-column imaging systems. The Water Column Imaging Working Group is working on a series of multibeam echosounder (MBES) water column datasets acquired in a variety of environments, using a range of frequencies, and imaging a number of water-column features such as gas seeps, oil leaks, suspended particulate matter, vegetation and freshwater springs. Access to data from different acoustic frequencies and ocean dynamics enables us to discuss and test multifrequency approaches which is the most promising means to develop a quantitative analysis of the physical properties of acoustic scatterers, providing rigorous cross calibration of the acoustic devices. In addition, high redundancy of multibeam data, such as is available for some datasets, will allow us to develop data processing techniques, leading to quantitative estimates of water column gas seeps. Each of the datasets has supporting ground-truthing data (underwater videos and photos, physical oceanography measurements) which provide information on the origin and chemistry of the seep content. This is of first importance when assessing the physical properties of water column scatterers from backscatter acoustic measurement.