With backscatter intensity, the intensity of the acoustic return from the sea floor from the multibeam system, is a function of the properties of the surficial sediments and of the bottom roughness. Generally, a strong return (light gray tones) is associated with rock or coarse-grained sediment, and a weak return (dark gray tones) with fine-grained sediments. However, the micro-topography, such as ripples, burrows, and benthic populations also affect the reflectivity of the sea floor. Direct observations, using bottom photography or video, and surface samples, are needed to verify interpretations of the backscatter intensity data. The backscatter data have a weak striping that runs parallel to the ship's track. Some of the striping is the result of poor data return at nadir that appears as evenly-spaced thin speckled lines. Some striping is also due to critical angle effects, where the intensity of return varies as a function of the angle of incidence of the incoming sound on the seafloor (Hughes-Clark and others, 1997).
Note: The north and south sections of this data set were mosaiced and then reprojected from their native projection into North American Datum 1983 (NAD83) / Massachusetts State Plane coordinate system, Mainland Zone (Fipszone 2001) meters by the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management on Sept. 5, 2006.
After the echo sounder data were logged onto the hard disk of the Sun workstation, a suite of processing software developed by the Ocean Mapping Group (www.omg.unb.ca/~jhc/SwathEd.html) was used to correct for artifacts and errors that may have been introduced during data collection. This software also enhanced the corrected data by resolving beam pattern and aspect ratio distortions and by imposing a linear contrast stretch before it generated bathymetric and sidescan sonar image mosaics in a Mercator projection. All data processing described here is initiated using Silicon Graphics workstations as soon as each acquisition file is closed by the Simrad Mermaid workstation (usually at the end of each survey line). Additional processing was done in the lab to correct for fluctuations in sea level during the survey and for artifacts in the data files that were not corrected in the field (see below).
The processing and editing steps on board the ship were:
(A.) Demultiplex, or unravel, the acquired Simrad data files using RT to generate separate files containing navigation, depth soundings, sidescan sonar backscatter values, and sound velocity information.
(B.) Automatically reject bad data (autoRejectSoundings). For the multibeam soundings, reject data outside expected depth ranges (operator's decision based on nautical chart data); for navigation data, reject fixes with poor GPS statistics.
(C.) Edit the navigation data on-screen using jview to remove undesirable points, including turns at the ends of survey lines.
(D.) Edit the multibeam soundings on-screen using swathed to remove individual anomalous soundings.
(E). Merge tidal information and the corrected navigation back (mergetide and mergenav) into the data files. Tidal information was obtained from predicted tides using the Xtide program <http://www.flaterco.com/xtide/xtide.html>), which generated predicted tides based on the harmonic coefficients for Chatham provided by the Xtide program.
(F.) Map the bathymetric soundings from each processed data file onto a Mercator grid using weigh_grid with node spacings and scale selected by the operator. The data files capenorth.asc and capenorth.xyz were produced from the gridded data. The data file capenorth.txt is a comma-delimited version of capenorth.xyz.
(G.) Map the extracted sidescan sonar backscatter values onto a digital mosaic using mos2 in the Mercator projection at a scale selected by the user.
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