Multibeam Bathymetry as a Tool for Coastal Zone Management with Emphasis in Processing its Data with Bathymetric Algorithms

Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

M.S. Coastal Zone Management

First Advisor

Bernhard Riegl

Second Advisor

Samuel Purkis


Multibeam sonar data is typically used to upgrade previous maps gathered from conventional survey methods. However, the improvement of its techniques provide detail descriptions of the seafloor over a broad area that can be combined with data on species-specific habitat relationships to make classifications for distribution and abundance of marine resources available, a key factor to the management of marine ecosystems. Multibeam applications in some endangered marine ecosystems such as coral reefs and fisheries science are reviewed to describe the importance of mapping the seafloor for resource management plans. Furthermore, multibeam data processing is thoroughly reviewed and discussed with emphasis in using bathymetric models and computer algorithms that are used by hydrographic agencies for navigational purposes, which may differ from bathymetric surfaces for habitat studies and, in some cases, interfere with marine resources management decisions. Proper high-resolution multibeam data processing is essential for the identification of true depths for navigational purposes, and provides valuable information for long spatial-temporal habitat studies, which are the basis toward establishing and monitoring marine protected areas and managerial decisions concerning marine resources sustainability. Currently, the best approach to process and validate multibeam soundings for both navigational purposes and habitat studies seems to be the use of a 3D editor for cleaning incoherent multibeam soundings and the consequent use of the Combined Uncertainty and Bathymetry Estimator (cube) for validation purposes, as it allows users to interrelate bathymetric soundings with more realistic seafloor models. However, cube’s practice is in its early stages and hence needs to be properly understood in order to make best use of the final product delivered. Finally, it is strongly recommended for analysts to become more knowledgeable of bathymetric computer-based profiles for the true depth decision-making process, due to the ever-growing densities of data collected by modern multibeam systems and the possibility of using multibeam data for interdisciplinary studies such as integrated marine resources management.

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