“If we go on the way we have, the fault is our greed [and] if we are not willing [to change], we will disappear from the face of the globe, to be replaced by the insect.” 
Jacques-Yves Cousteau

Side Scan Sonar   


Side scan sonar (SOund NAvigation and Ranging) is a category of sonar system that is used to efficiently create an image of large areas of the sea floor. This tool is used for mapping the seabed for a wide variety of purposes, including creation of nautical charts and detection and identification of underwater objects and bathymetric features. It may be used to conduct surveys for maritime archaeology; in conjunction with seafloor samples it is able to provide an understanding of the differences in material and texture type of the seabed. Side scan sonar imagery is also a commonly used tool to detect debris items and other obstructions on the seafloor that may be hazardous to shipping or to seafloor installations by the oil and gas industry. In addition, the status of pipelines and cables on the seafloor can be investigated using side scan sonar. Side scan data is frequently acquired with bathymetric soundings and sub-bottom data which provides a glimpse of the shallow structure of the seabed. Side scan sonar is also used for fisheries research, dredging operations and environmental studies. It also has military applications including mine detection.

Side scan uses a sonar device that emits fan-shaped pulses down toward the seafloor across a wide angle perpendicular to the path of the sensor through the water, which may be towed from a surface vessel or submarine, or mounted on the ship's hull. The intensity of the acoustic reflections from the seafloor of this fan-shaped beam is recorded in a series of cross-track slices, which when stitched together along the direction of motion, become an image of the sea bottom within the swath (coverage width) of the beam. The sound frequencies used in side-scan sonar usually range from 100 to 500 kHz; higher frequencies yield better resolution but less range.

Detail and Examples