The USGS Woods Hole Science Center has been involved in swath bathymetric data collection since 1994 through collaborative efforts with NOAA, Canadian Hydrographic Service, the University of New Brunswick, University of New Hampshire, and private agencies. Acquisition of multibeam echo sounder data relies on cooperative agreements or contracts, as the Woods Hole Science Center (WHSC) does not own and operate a multibeam system.
In 1999, the WHSC, Sea-floor Mapping Group acquired an interferometric sonar and incorporated this system into its existing geophysical equipment pool (seismic-reflection, and sidescan-sonar systems). Since 1999, swath bathymetry has been routinely collected during WHSC Sea-floor Mapping efforts.
The WHSC Sea-floor Mapping Group processes swath bathymetry and generates preliminary bathymetric maps in the field, enabling us to rapidly trouble shoot potential hardware or software problems and analyze our data collection procedures during field operations. Processing continues back in the laboratory in Woods Hole, and when complete, bathymetric data are integrated with sidescan-sonar, seismic-reflection and ground-truth data to fully assess the study area. Incorporating swath bathymetry into our geophysical suite of equipment has augmented our nearshore and shallow water capabilities and research efforts.