Side Scan Sonar



Side Scan Sonar is a marine geophysical technique that is used to image or “see” the ocean floor (or lake or river bottoms).  The method uses pulses of sound (sonar) shot sub-horizontally across the sea bottom from a towed transducer or towfish. The sound pulses reflect off of relief or objects that project above the bottom.  The strength and travel time of reflected pulses are recorded and processed into an image or picture of the bottom. The technique is exactly analogous to taking a low-angle (as opposed to overhead) photo of the sea floor using a flashbulb and black and white film.  The difference is that side scan sonar illuminates the sea floor with a pulse of sound rather than light. Since it uses sound rather than light, side scan sonar works even in murky or black water.

Enviroscan commonly uses side scan sonar in searches for shipwrecks, downed aircraft, lost anchors, dredges or other equipment, submerged trees, pilings, dumped drums or other debris, and virtually any object that projects above the sea floor.  Enviroscan has even successfully used side scan sonar to locate two drowning victims for whom divers had been searching for weeks in zero-visibility water.  In addition to underwater searches, Enviroscan uses side scan sonar for underwater inspections of shipping channels and docking berths for obstructions, pipelines for snags or deviations, and bridge piers for scour. When mapping large areas of sea floor, individual sonar swaths can be digitally merged to produce seamless, geo-referenced mosaics that can be readily overlain with other data in a GIS system.

Shipwreck with Line and AnchorSide Scan Sonar Image Gallery

Note that side scan sonar provides images of objects that project above the sea floor. In clear water, Enviroscan can detect and image underwater features in even greater detail using a color video remotely operated vehicle (ROV). Features or objects that are buried beneath the sea floor can be detected using sub-bottom sonar, marine magnetics (for iron-rich objects), or underwater metal detection (for all metals). In addition, Enviroscan can detect and trace underwater pipes and cables using electromagnetic methods.  Finally, Enviroscan can provide detailed bottom characterization using RoxAnn sonar.

Enviroscan’s senior sonar operator has experience and expertise that are second to none. He has performed searches in oceans and inland waters all over the world, and has provided side scan sonar training to the U.S. EPA, FBI and Navy, as well as the Navies of Ireland, Israel, China and Korea.

See Also:

  • Underwater Searches
  • Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV)
  • Sub-Bottom Sonar
  • Bottom Characterization
  • Marine Archaeology
  • Channel And Berth Obstruction Surveys
  • Reef Evaluation
  • Enviroscan exclusively employs Klein Associates, Inc. Side Scan Sonar systems.
    Click the logo below to visit Klein’s website.
    Klein Associates, Inc.

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