Multibeam Swath Bathymetry for Underwater Archaeological Investigations

Author(s): Daria Merwin; Roger Flood

Year: 2015


Remote sensing technologies have long played an important role in underwater archaeological survey, and among the most recent (and increasingly used) additions to the toolkit is multibeam swath bathymetry, which operates by transmitting sound beams perpendicular to a research vessel's track and then processing the returned sonar data to produce a three-dimensional image of the sea floor. Multibeam survey can be particularly useful in water bodies where conditions are not conducive to other forms of study such as photography or scuba diver investigation, as is the case for the Hudson River, where hundreds of anomalies likely to be archaeological sites (mostly shipwrecks) have now been mapped. Thanks in part to funding from the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training, our team was able to experiment with three multibeam systems in the Hudson to determine which works best for examining archaeological sites, and to refine the methodology for field survey as well as for data collection, reduction, and interpretation. In many cases, the high resolution multibeam imagery alone allows us to accurately characterize different ship types. Subsequent work has focused on refining the survey protocol and conducting ground truthing with divers on selected sites.

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Cite this Record

Multibeam Swath Bathymetry for Underwater Archaeological Investigations. Daria Merwin, Roger Flood. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 396862)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -80.815; min lat: 39.3 ; max long: -66.753; max lat: 47.398 ;