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SIDE SCAN
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TOPIC OUTLINES
THEORY OF OPERATION
SIDE SCAN SONAR GEOMETRY
SSS RECORDS
SSS OPERATING SYSTEMS
INSTALLATION
CALIBRATION
SURVEY PREPARATIONS
INTRODUCTION
Hydrography is not restricted to navigation but
includes the description of the features of the seas.
The introduction of sonar enables a more complete
and detailed description for safer navigation and other
uses.
Major engineering advances in equipment used for
underwater acoustic imaging were made during
1970s and 1980s
Side scan sonar (SSS) has enable the geophysicists to
quickly survey a large undersea area and to make a
rapid qualitative investigation of the seafloor
materials.
The SS technique is similar to the aerial photography, except that
acoustic beams are used instead of light beams. The system transmit
and receive signal via transducer; transceiver.

The active sonar system transmits sound and receives the returning
echoes from objects.

A key to the application of SSS is the proper control and manipulation
of the instrument to gain the highest resolution and most accurate
images.

SSS although becoming easier to use, is still a fairly complex
instrument, such as the integration of other equipment (DGPS) and
subject to the erratic motion of the sea.

THEORY OF OPERATION
SSS is used to produce images of the sea bottom, which in
turn are used for geological investigations and the search for
objects like wrecks, mines and pipelines.
SSS is a method of underwater imaging, based on the
principles of underwater acoustics.
Typical uses of SSS include:-
Object detection (mines, sunken ships, pipelines)
Bottom classification (sediment type, rock, sand ripples)
Inspection of underwater constructions (wellheads, oil
pipes, bridges)

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Side-scan sonar is similar to
multibeam echosounding in that it
covers a swath of the seafloor, except
that a time-series of the strength of
the return signal is measured, not the
time of the first return.
Hence, side-scan cannot measure
depth but rather returns a grayscale
image showing objects and shadows
not unlike a photograph.
In addition, the sound waves are
usually transmitted and received from
a "fish" towed close to the seafloor,
like the one shown here, although
they may be hull-mounted in shallow
water.


Towing the fish closer to the seafloor allows a different perspective
when surveying: one from near the seafloor that allows more of a
side-ways profile.
SSS GEOMETRY
Slant range
Horizontal range
Can be calculated from
sonar height and slant
range (pythagorean
teorem)
Maximum range
System setting, telling the
sss how far it should scan
Insodified area
The total area insonified by
the sonar beam
The numbers on the diagram show...
1. Depth to inside of acoustic path.
2. Vertical beam angle.
3. Range setting in software (maximum acoustic range).
4. Swath width accross seafloor. 5. Tow depth of side scan sonar.
6. Port and starboard channel separation. 7. Horizontal beam width.

A Sidescan Ping
Water column is the blank
area in the sidescan record.
Seafloor reflects at a typical
amplitude.
Normal incidence = strong
return from target.
Features on the seafloor block
the signal and give no return
producing a shadow on the
record
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Geometry of sidescan sonar and definitions of some basic
parameters
Typical beam pattern of a sidescan sonar having a narrow beamwidth in
the horizontal and a broad beamwidth in the vertical plane
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Side Scan Sonar Records
Side Scan Sonar Interpretation

Sonar measurement

A= Trigger pulse
B= first surface return
C= Sea clutter
D= first bottom return
E= Water column
F= sunken fishing vessel
G= shadow
H= data channel
I= System operational settings
J= 25m scale marks


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Side Scan Sonar
Side Scan Sonar Components and working principles

SSS Components

SSS components basically consists of three main parts, namely as:

Sonar tow fish

Electromechanical cable

Display/processing unit

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Side Scan Sonar
Side Scan Sonar Components and working principles

Side Scan Sonar Towfish

The SSS tow fish, a transducer, which consists of piezoelectric crystal has the property of
physically changing shape when a voltage is applied across it.
Separate port and starboard transducers are located on each side of the towfish

The transducer converts the oscillating electrical field produced by the transmitter into
a mechanical vibration, and transferred into the water as an oscillating pressure, called
the sound pulse.

The sound travels away from the sonar transducer until it strikes something, such as the
seafloor or a target in the water.

Absorption reduces the strength of the outgoing pulse and the returning echoes due to
physical and chemical processes in the ocean.

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Side Scan Sonar
Side Scan Sonar Components and working principles

Side Scan Sonar Towfish

Absorption in the ocean is much more rapid than in fresh water.

Other sound loss factors are beam spreading and scattering

Some of the outgoing sound is reflected and returned back to the transducer.

As the pulse travels out farther away from the towfish, it becomes more attenuated, scattered and
absorbed.

The returning echoes from great distances are extremely low level and require very high
amplification to normalize them by Time Varied Gain (TVG).

The transducer converts the returned sound into electrical energy, and is further amplifier, before
being recorded.
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Side Scan Sonar Components and working principles

Towfish Across-track swathe
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Side Scan Sonar Components and working principles

Side Scan Sonar Towfish

The two-way-travel (twt) time is recorded that is the time taken for the sound
to travel from the transducer to the target of interest and reflected back to the
same transducer.

The distance or depth could be determined using the known velocity of
propagation of sound in the medium, which is in this case is the seawater.

In other words, SSS system converts twt directly into the distance.
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Side Scan Sonar Components and working principles

Side Scan Sonar Cables and Connectors

The towfish is connected to the tow cable by an underwater (wet) connector for
electrical connections.

An armoured cable is used for deep operation or a reinforced multiconductor
cable for shallow area.

The cables are winch onto a winch drum and mechanically connected to the
recorder.
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Side Scan Sonar Components and working principles

Side Scan Sonar Recorder

The control/display unit, which produced the graphic records, contains
tuning controls for the system.
Provides the operator with controls required such as gain levels,
frequency, chart speed, and slant range correction for survey
operations.
Equipped with either electro-sensitive printing head or thermal printers
Has a variety of interfaces for keyboard, navigation inputs, video
displays, data storage and computer processing.
Receive data via the tow cable from the towfish.
The SSS recorder is the command component of the sonar system.
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Side Scan Sonar Components and working principles

The main characteristics of the SSS are:

Sideways look:
Sonar tansducers are located on both sides of the tow fish, which look at a series of
echoes across the sea bottom.

Two channels:
As there are two sonar transducers, one looks at each sides of the survey vessel,
thereby doubling the coverage.

Narrow beam:
Side scan uses a pulse, which is narrow in the horizontal plane and wide vertically.

Towed body:
Tow fish can be either in towing mechanism or fixed side mounted.
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Side Scan Sonar Components and working principles

Towfish and recorder
SSS Transducers
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Side Scan Sonar Components and working principles

EG & G towfish
A complete SSS system
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Side Scan Sonar Components and working principles

An A frame use during deployment
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Side Scan Sonar
Side Scan Sonar Offshore Survey Operations
Deployment
Cable out from the stern to the tow fish must be known for latter
calculation and interpretation.
The determination of the cable length out can be easily notified by
marking the cable at 10m intervals.
An A frame of the vessel with pulley can be used so that the cable will
go through the pulley in order not to damage and kink the SSS cable.
The SS cable is coiled into a drum with winch and normally welded at
the centre alignment of the vessel deck.
The surveyor needs to winch in and winch out the cable to the specific
length of the cable paid out.
This cable drum is linked to the processing unit in a controlled room.
Side Scan Sonar
Side Scan Sonar Offshore Survey Operations

Deployment:
Prior to deployment, check all shackles and fitting that attach the towfish to the
ship.
For deployment and recovery of the towfish, the speed of the vessel should be
reduced to 2-3 knots. Care should be taken to keep the towfish away from the
propellers.
A constant watch must be kept on the sonar trace to ensure adequate clearance
between the towfish and the seafloor.
Care must be taken during turns as the reduced speed will result in lowering of
the towfish.
If the towfish bottom clearance is inadequate, accelerate rapidly to raise the
fish or to heave in on the towcable.
The ship can neither stop nor turn rapidly without risk to the towfish and
towcable.
Side Scan Sonar
Side Scan Sonar Offshore Survey Operations
Deployment:
Installation and deployment
System on deck
Side Scan Sonar
Side Scan Sonar Offshore Survey Operations
Installation
Winch, cable drum and A frame
Recorder unit in control room
Side Scan Sonar
Side Scan Sonar Offshore Survey Operations

Towfish Height and speed of survey vessel

After the deployment of the tow fish, need maintain the fish height above the
sea floor at the safe allowance height, normally at 10% of the range scale or 10
meters and above depending on the survey requirements.

In general, for most work the optimum height of the towfish above the seafloor
is 10% of the range-scale in use, i.e. on the 150 m scale the towfish should be
15 m above the seafloor.

SSS transducers are directed slightly downwards so flying the towfish too close
to the seafloor may reduce the range from which returns can be received.


Side Scan Sonar
Side Scan Sonar Offshore Survey Operations

Towfish Height and speed of survey vessel

If the towfish is too high, acoustic shadows may not be formed behind
obstructions making them more difficult to detect.

This is especially true in deep water when a compromise has to be made
between the need for getting the towfish down to a useful depth and
maintaining a reasonable speed of advance.

The higher the fish, the less resolution but the more scan range coverage (small
range scale). The lower the fish height, the higher resolution but bigger range
scale and less scan range.
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Side Scan Sonar
Side Scan Sonar Offshore Survey Operations

Towfish Height and speed of survey vessel

The fish height also subject to the speed of the survey vessel and cable paid-
out.

The more the speed of the survey vessel applied on, the higher the fish.

The longer cable paid-out the lower the fish level and vice-versa.

Speed over ground of 4 to 7 knots is normal use. In fact for practical reasons
the towfish should not be towed at speeds over the ground in excess of 8.0
knots, or small features will be missed, or 10 knots through the water since
above this speed the towfish is liable to yaw.


Side Scan Sonar
Side Scan Sonar Offshore Survey Operations

Towfish Height and speed of survey vessel

In areas of very high seafloor relief it may be prudent to tow the sonar higher
than normal; in this event the reduction in acoustic shadow on features
standing proud of the seafloor must be borne in mind. This effect is worst close
in to the towfish where detection of small contacts is already at its most
difficult.

In shallow water it may not be possible to get the towfish as high off the
seafloor as desirable. Although the recorder will be giving a background trace
across the entire width of the paper, the sonar beam may not be ensonifying
the entire range. Under these conditions the only solution is to reduce both
the range scale and the line spacing.
Side Scan Sonar
Side Scan Sonar Offshore Survey Operations

Towfish Height and speed of survey vessel

As a further limitation in shallow water the transducers may be very close to the
surface with little tow-cable streamed. This will introduce the problem of
surface noise (such as waves and ships wake) degrading performance and may
also lead to the towfish being adversely affected by the motion of the ship.

When investigating contacts with sonar, the towfish should always be
sufficiently high above the seafloor to allow it to pass over the obstruction in
the event of an accidental "on top". The least depth over a feature can usually
be estimated initially from the shadow length obtained during the area search.
Side Scan Sonar
Side Scan Sonar Offshore Survey Operations

Towfish Height and speed of survey vessel
If it becomes necessary to tow the towfish at a height other than the optimum,
the towfish height can easily be controlled by a combination of wire out and
ship's speed.

Quickly heaving in a length of cable will "snatch" the towfish upwards rapidly,
after which it will settle back down more slowly.

This technique can be very useful in lifting the towfish over unexpected
dangers.

As the length of wire streamed increases this method becomes less
effective.
Side Scan Sonar
Side Scan Sonar Offshore Survey Operations

Towfish Height and speed of survey vessel

The 150 m scale is usually best (use of the 75 m scale may result in the shadow
from a large contact extending off the trace). Speed should be kept to about 3
kt, to reduce distortions in the record, with the towfish about 15 m clear of the
seafloor.

The zone where small contacts may not be detected can be calculated for a
given range scale in use and speed over the ground.

Line spacing can then be adjusted so that sweeps from adjacent lines at
least cover the gap. Alternatively, line spacing can be fixed and speed
adjusted to ensure that full coverage is achieved.
Side Scan Sonar
Side Scan Sonar Offshore Survey Operations

Pre-Determine scan range and scale

Across-track Scan range can be pre-determined depending on the object size to
be search. The shorter the scan range the better resolution of the image.
Say the analogue paper record width is 20cm, speed of sound 1500m/s and the
twt is set to 1/10 sec.
The range per channel can be calculated as follows:
D = (1/2) v t
D = (1/2) x 1500 x (1/10)
= 75

Across-track scale = 10 : ( 75 x 100)
= 1 : 750
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Side Scan Sonar
Side Scan Sonar Offshore Survey Operations

Pre-Determine along-track scale


Fix lines with coordinates on side scan image
Side Scan Sonar
Side Scan Sonar Offshore Survey Operations

Pre-Determine scan range and scale

Effective Sonar Range. The presence of marks on the sonar trace does not
necessarily indicate that returning echoes are being received. Transmission
losses, interference from other sources of noise, water conditions and
recorder limitations all restrict the useful range of SSS.

A maximum range of 270 m is about all that can be expected for even large
wrecks, with small contacts (1-2 m) unlikely to be detected beyond about
120-150 m.
Side Scan Sonar
Side Scan Sonar Offshore Survey Operations

Pre-Determine scan range and scale

Detection range varies between different SSS models and frequencies - the
higher the frequency the less the detection range, although the resulting
picture may be better.

The best results will usually be achieved by restricting the range scale to 150
m to take advantage of the higher pulse rates and greater definition.
Side Scan Sonar
Side Scan Sonar Offshore Survey Operations

Single or dual Channel scanning

SSS system can be operated in two ways: single channel and dual channels.
Single channel is operated when only one side of transducers is set to transmit
and receive signal. In this way either port or starboard transducer is set
working.
The advantage of using single channel is that the resolution of the image can be
set higher as shorter range scale is used. This is a normal case in pipeline as-
built survey.
Dual channel SSS system is where both transducers are set to transmit and
receive signal. In normal SSS survey, this system is fully utilized.
Side Scan Sonar
Side Scan Sonar Offshore Survey Operations

Tow Fish positioning and error

The towfish (sub-towed transducers) is towed at some depth below the sea
surface and some altitude above the sea floor.

The transducers emit the sonar pulses towards the sea floor, reflect from a
target and returns to the fish.

Therefore the distance of the target on the seafloor is measured in relation to
the position of the fish, which is positioned in relation to the reference datum
point of the survey vessel.
Side Scan Sonar
Side Scan Sonar Offshore Survey Operations

Tow Fish positioning and error

Position of the Sidescan Towfish: Towing the sonar transducers astern of the
vessel has several advantages including removing the sensor from the effects of
vessel motion and operating it at a height above the seafloor which will
enable the optimum shadow.

However, there is a disadvantage in that it also introduces uncertainty as to
the position of the towfish.
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Side Scan Sonar
Side Scan Sonar Offshore Survey Operations

Tow Fish positioning and error

This error has three components:
an along-track component, caused by uncertainty in how far the
towfish is astern of the vessel; this depends on the length of cable
out, depth of towfish and vertical catenary of the cable (the last two
also vary with the ship's speed);

an across-track component, caused by deflection of the towfish by
tidal stream or current, and by ship manoeuvres;

errors in the position of the ship or boat, which will be transferred to
the towfish.
Side Scan Sonar
Side Scan Sonar Offshore Survey Operations

Tow Fish positioning and error

Towfish position can be determined using an Ultra Short Baseline (USBL)
positioning system which requires transducers/receivers to be fitted in the
vessel and towfish; however the accuracy of this system deteriorates rapidly
depending on the length of tow.

In addition, the attitude of the towfish may vary both longitudinally and about
its axis and thus the direction of the transducer beams may fluctuate. This is
especially true if the ship's course or speed are frequently changing.
Side Scan Sonar
Side Scan Sonar Offshore Survey Operations

Tow Fish positioning and error

Hull Mounting:
SSS can be mounted in the hull of a surface vessel.
Advantages:
its position and orientation are accurately known and therefore the
positioning of detected features is relatively easy.
Enables freedom of manoeuvre for the vessel which is no longer required
to tow the sensor.

Disadvantages:
the effect of vessel motion on SSS ensonification and performance,
interference with other hull mounted sensors, e.g. MBES, and
it is unlikely that the SSS will be operated at the optimum height above the
sea floor.
Side Scan Sonar
Side Scan Sonar Offshore Survey Operations

Tow Fish positioning and error

Hull mounting is often the best method when operating in shallow water or in
areas where the seafloor topography is potential hazardous, e.g. reef.

Under most conditions the towfish is largely decoupled from the effects of
ship's motion by the flexibility of the tow-cable.

The assumption is usually made that the towfish is completely stable in
roll, pitch and yaw, although some motion in all these planes undoubtedly
occurs.

Roll probably has relatively little effect on the sonar picture, being
compensated for by the wide beam angle in the vertical plane.
Side Scan Sonar
Side Scan Sonar Offshore Survey Operations

Tow Fish positioning and error

The problem of towfish stability is believed to be less important than that of
towfish position.

In rough weather the effects of towfish oscillation can usually be clearly
seen on the trace. Under these conditions the reduction in the probability
of detecting small features must be considered.
Towfish Operating Height
Typical operations call for the side scan to have a altitude of
8% to 20% of range scale off the seafloor.
Ensures the best angle of incident (reflection of an object) for
a sonar return.
Range Scale Example Optimum Fish Height
75 m 6-15 m
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Side Scan Sonar
Side Scan Sonar Interpretation

Measurements from Sonar Records

Layback:
Layback is the distance astern of the navaid position that the towfish is assumed to
be.
Side Scan Sonar
Side Scan Sonar Interpretation

Measurements from Sonar Records
In the normal course it can be computed as follows:
Layback = DT + [WO
2
- DS
2
]

Where
DT = horizontal distance from fix point to tow point,
WO = amount of wire out from tow point, and
DS = depth of towfish below surface.
As previously mentioned, side-scan sonar can not accurately measure depth. The correct
position and orientation of the fish is not well known due to several variables, including
the length of cable out, bends in the cable, and pitch and roll of the towfish. However, the
position can be approximated as shown in this diagram.
Side Scan Sonar
Side Scan Sonar Interpretation

Measurements from Sonar Records

Geometry of Heighting from SSS.

One of the most important capabilities of SSS is its ability
to enable the height of a feature to be measured from
the length of its shadow on the sonar trace.
However, this capability depends on the SSS being
operated at the correct height above the seafloor and
selection of the optimum range scale.
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Side Scan Sonar
Side Scan Sonar Interpretation

Measurements from Sonar Records

Geometry of Heighting from SSS.
The geometry of heighting from SSS is shown at figure below:
Therefore, by similar triangles -
H = S x h
R + S
H = height of the feature
S = length of feature shadow
R = slope range
H = height of towfish above seafloor
Side Scan Sonar
Side Scan Sonar Interpretation

Measurements from Sonar Records

Geometry of Heighting from SSS.

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Side Scan Sonar
Side Scan Sonar Interpretation

Interpretation from Sonar Records
The horizontal dimension along the direction of the survey track:
The corresponding fix interval could be determined from the navigation
data, and used to calculate the dimension of the sonar feature along
the survey track.


What to look for inside a Sidescan Record
Water Column information about towfish height.
Target features on the bottom with shadow can easily define a target and
height of object
Bottom sediment and classification. Signal will differ based upon return
angle on incident. Differing bottom types will show up as light or dark
returns. Easily group sections of the bottom for similarities
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While we tend to look at side-scan sonar images as pictures of the seafloor, what are we
really looking at? As this schematic diagram shows , ridges and projections on the seafloor
reflect more sound energy resulting in a brighter color. These features also leave a shadow
zone which no sound energy reaches, so none can return. Knowing the height of the
towfish above the seafloor and the length of the shadow, one can approximate the height
of the object above the seafloor.
SSS INTEPRETATION
Measurement Height Above Bottom

A = Towfish Altitude
R = Range to far side of
shadow
L = Length of Shadow
H = Target Height
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The side scan will provide the target height off
the seafloor (not depth of object).
Simple Formula: H = L * A / R
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Typical display of recorded sonar data. Side Scan Sonar images



Boulders
Side Scan Sonar
11.0 Side Scan Sonar: Sonar Images



Connectors failure
Side Scan Sonar
11.0 Side Scan Sonar: Sonar Images



Exposed cable
Side Scan Sonar
11.0 Side Scan Sonar: Sonar Images



Exposed pipeline
Side Scan Sonar
11.0 Side Scan Sonar: Sonar Images



Pockmarks
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Side Scan Sonar
11.0 Side Scan Sonar: Sonar Images



Shallow gas
Side Scan Sonar
11.0 Side Scan Sonar: Sonar Images



Structure
Side Scan Sonar
11.0 Side Scan Sonar: Sonar Images



Pipelines and
anchor scars
Side Scan Sonar
11.0 Side Scan Sonar: Sonar Images



Pilings
Side Scan Sonar
11.0 Side Scan Sonar: Sonar Images



Pipeline
Side Scan Sonar
11.0 Side Scan Sonar: Sonar Images



Rock
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Side Scan Sonar
11.0 Side Scan Sonar: Sonar Images



Wreck and shadow
Application of SBP
Seismic
Seismic sources
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Hydrophone