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Ocean Systems International, Inc.
8711 Boca Ciega Drive
St. Petersburg, FL 33706
Oceanographic Research, Side Scan Sonar, Sub-bottom Profiling, Hydrographic Surveys, ROV's, Navigation
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A newly developed system utilized in collecting and processing side scan sonar data is the Chesapeake Technology SonarWiz Map Real-time Data Acquisition and Mosaic Production Package. It is a full function package that accepts data from the side scan sonar system and then digitizes and processes these signals in real-time. The sonar imagery is then combined with navigational data from the onboard vessel positioning system to geo-encode all images that are displayed. This combined data set is constantly stored to large capacity optical disks allowing for complete data archiving and playback to assist in post processing of the data.
A sub-bottom profiler can also be incorporated in addition to side scan sonar to provide a two dimensional view of objects and sediments located below the sea floor. As the research vessel proceeds down the transect, a digital sub-bottom profiler could be incorporated to identify any anomalies the vessel passes over. A sub-bottom profiler operates by transmitting acoustical energy from a vehicle towed behind the research vessel and listening for its return, much like a ship’s sounder. Increased energy output and quiet detection circuitry result in a plot of what would appear as a cross-sectional area of the line directly under the towed vehicle.
Through the integrated navigation system, lateral offsets corresponding to the sub-bottom “towfish” layback can be input to more accurately calculate towfish position. This corrected positioning data is then sent to the shipboard sub-bottom recorder, allowing for record annotation at given distance intervals.
A third device to aid in the detection of submerged metallic targets is the cesium magnetometer. Like the proceeding two devices, a sensor mounted towfish is pulled down the survey line. When the magnetic field produced by a metallic object excites this sensor, a graphic and digital display reveal the strength of that field. These numbers are directly related to the mass of the detected anomaly, therefore designating its size. Once a target is located by side scan sonar or sub-bottom profiler, this tool can prove invaluable in the classification of that target.
While the survey is being carried out, depths are obtained through the use of a survey grade precision fathometer. The device is interfaced to the integrated navigation system and depth data is recorded by this system along with vessel and towfish positions. Once the data is post processed, two and three dimensional seafloor maps can be generated to assist in mission planning when re-visiting detected anomalies with divers or ROV’s. Real-time depth displays driven by this data also enable the surveyors to properly adjust the altitudes of the various towfish as the vessel proceeds down the line.
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