Quantitative seafloor characterization using a bathymetric sidescan sonar
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Bathymetry and backscatter measurements from a 120-kHz phase-difference sonar are analyzed in terms of statistical and spectral characteristics. Data from a multisensor, multiscale survey of the Juan de Fuca Ridge are compared across three distinct geological provinces: sediment pond, ridge flank, and axial valley. The detrended bathymetry follows a Gaussian distribution; the power spectral density can be approximately described by a power law. The composite multiscale power spectrum demonstrates a similar slope spanning a spatial frequency range from about 0.005 to 50 cycles/m, corresponding to a range of geological features from a few hundred meters down to several centimeters. The backscattering strength and grazing-angle dependencies agree with previous empirical studies; data from a sediment-pond region are shown to match theoretical predictions of the composite-roughness model. Histograms of the echo amplitude are characterized by a multimodal Rayleigh probability density function. For all analyses, the data show distinct differences among the three provinces.