What is Bathymetric Survey? Why is Bathymetry Important?

What is Bathymetric Survey? Why is Bathymetry Important?

What is Bathymetric Survey?

A Bathymetric survey is a method of surveying the seafloor by collecting data from depths to within of that of shallow coastal waters. It is used to create maps of the ocean floor.

Bathymetric surveys are conducted mostly by using sonar or echo sounders. The equipment is lowered to the sea floor on a wire, and as it makes measurements, it sends signals back up to an operator aboard the ship.

Images of the seabed are then created with data from these surveys. Different depths are indicated on the images by different colors, called depth contours.

History of Bathymetric Surveys

Four bathymetric surveys were digitized from analogue data in 1889, 1910, 1963, and 1988. These coincidentally encompass both El Nino and La Nina-like multidecadal wave climate: 1889–1910 (La Nina-like); 1910–1963 (predominantly El Nino-like); and 1963–1988 (predominantly El Nino-like) (predominantly La Nina-like).

Using the methodology outlined in Goodwin et al., each bathymetric survey was transformed to a mesh grid (2013). Shoreline maps have been accessible since 1860, while historical aerial imagery dates from 1942 to the present.

There was a photogrammetric study of coastline and foredune change available (OEH, Bob Clout, Bruce Coates, personal communication, 2011).

Since 2011, a LiDAR DEM has also been released. In ARC GIS, bathymetric difference and coastline change maps were created for each common time slice.

Methods of Bathymetric Surveying

Multiple methods can be used for bathymetric surveys:

Multi-Beam Surveying

A multibeam echo sounder mounted to a boat sends out a wide variety of beams across a “swath” of the waterbody bottom.

The data is gathered and analyzed as the beams bounce back off the waterbody floor. During the survey, the processed data may be watched in real time on the boat. Multi-beam surveying is often performed in bigger bodies of water.

Single-beam surveying

Instead of sending out a large number of beams, single-beam bathymetry examines the depth of the water immediately beneath the boat. Single-beam surveys are often utilized for smaller bodies of water.

Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP)

ADCPs are used to quantify streamflow throughout the USGS. ADCPs detect water velocity by sending out sound waves that are reflected off of the water’s silt and other elements. Bathymetric mapping may then be done using the data acquired by ADCPs.

Sub-bottom profilers

Sub-bottom profilers are often used to see the layers of silt and rocks beneath the water’s surface. A sound wave is sent to the water body’s floor using a transducer.

This sound wave has the ability to penetrate the water body’s floor. The data from the sound waves may be plotted to illustrate the strata under the water’s surface.

Autonomous Underwater Vehicle Ecomapper

The Ecomapper can collect comprehensive bathymetric data, down to one-foot contours, in regions that boats cannot reach. The Ecomapper employs side-scan sonar as well as a Doppler velocity log.

How to Do a Bathymetric Survey

The process is as follows:

  1. Equipment tests and calibration – This is necessary to ensure that equipment is in good working order when it arrives on site.
  2. Mobilize all equipment – Mobilization of all equipment may entail hauling and deploying the survey boat in the survey region. In other circumstances, this is simply the transportation of equipment that may later be deployed on a local hiring boat, which can be more cost effective.
  3. Deployment and equipment setup – This includes the construction of a custom frame that is used to firmly attach all of the equipment to the boat.

This secures it in place while the boat is moving, ensuring high-quality data. The transducer is linked to the frame’s underwater part, and the GNSS (GPS) antennae are affixed to the frame’s top to provide the best possible view of the sky.

The “control hardware” – the echosounder and GNSS controllers – is then connected to all other equipment as well as the control computer through maritime cables. The program is then configured with information from the survey logs regarding the individual survey.

  1. Sound casting – Measuring the speed of sound at a given location in order to calibrate the transducer. This is due to the fact that speed fluctuates with salinity and temperature, which can have a substantial impact on depth readings.
  2. Begin the survey – This entails driving the boat while logging depth data across the whole survey region. This is accomplished by adhering to preset survey lines. In shallow seas where precision is necessary, these lines will be relatively close together.
  3. Check the data before demobilization – This is a fast review of the data obtained to identify if there are any clear areas that require additional data collecting.
  4. Demobilize – Turn off all equipment, unhook it, and wash it with clean water.
  5. Analyze the data – The data must be analyzed using specialized software and a powerful workstation computer. The raw data is checked by the hydrographer for any spurious signals, such as returns from floating objects or bubbles in the water. Any incorrect data is eliminated before the final map is created.

Bathymetric Survey Software

Most software to analyze bathymetric data is available through the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. Examples of these software applications include the following:

  • IKONOS Insight – This is used to display and compare different images taken by satellite, including multi-beam and SAR images.
  • DIVA – This allows users to view bathymetric data from different survey data sources.
  • IKONOS Insight Remote Viewer – This is a web-based application that permits users to access satellite imagery via the internet.
  • LandCover – This is used to create a land cover map over a geographical area, often at multiple time scales.
  • Land Cover Analysis – This identifies what portion of the land is water and what portion island. This can help identify the areas where it is more difficult to access.
  • GLOBALVIEW – This is a tool that generates contour maps and slope maps at various spatial resolutions.
  • WaterSurface – This serves to visualize the depth of water and intensity of current, including flow direction and speed, over a given area or feature, such as a creek mouth or seawall.
  • RIP and Rip2Arc – These tools assist users in transferring data from a table of values to the GIS.

Bathymetric survey uses

Bathymetric surveys are used for a variety of scientific purposes, including:


A leakage survey is conducted to determine where there is an abnormal amount of water being lost from a pipe, a drain or other channel.

The surveys are usually done in order to decrease the amount of leakage. The surveys make use of underwater sonar for details about the leaks; this information may be used to locate and shut down the leakages.

Water quality

Bathymetric surveys are conducted in order to understand the water quality at a given location. This information is useful for an environment agency when determining how best to dispose of or handle wastewater.

Underwater archaeology

Bathymetric surveys are also used extensively by underwater archaeologists in order to locate and excavate submerged archaeological sites.

Stability and scour

The stability of a geological structure is determined by looking at how it responds to changes in stress. This information is useful for engineers, who may then use it in designing structures.

Cultivation and flooding

Many types of farming have been successful as long as there has been an adequate source of water, such as a lake, brook or river. However, when the source of water becomes insufficient, fields may become unable to produce food on their own without irrigation.

One way to address this problem is to implement a cultivation survey. This will identify areas that are more susceptible to flooding and reduce the likelihood of flooding occurring.

To protect against erosion and deposition

If the land is protected from the weather, it will be less likely to have an impact on the area where it is located. One way to protect an area is by implementing a screening barrier survey, which will determine if there are any important areas that need protection from erosion or deposition.

Stream and reservoir contours

The contour of a stream or reservoir will determine its depth and water velocity, which can help engineers assess whether they are meeting the needs of their customers.

Storage and replenishment of reservoirs and ponds

Providing a continuous supply of water can be done by implementing a storage survey. This will determine where there are potential areas that may have moisture, in order to have the appropriate source for replenishing the reservoir or pond.

Biological as well as spill

The status of the bottom, as well as the different materials and obstacles in it, can affect many structures that are located on the ground above.

The stability and health of the bottom is determined by using a Bathymetric survey and undertaking many tests, such as hardness. This information helps engineers ensure safe construction and operation of their facilities.

Removal of a dam

The survey can show where a river or stream pool is blocked by a dam or a weir. This information will help engineers and environmental scientists determine the best way to remove this blockage and restore the natural flow of water in the area.

Bathymetric survey vs Hydrographic Survey

Bathymetric surveys and hydrographic surveys are very similar in the work that takes place. However, there are some important differences between them:

Depth of water

While most bathymetric survey equipment can measure a depth of up to 25 meters, it is generally recommended by marine geologists to not use this deep. That is because the sonar used will not be able to see very far beneath the surface.

It is usually sufficient to use a depth of 10 meters or less.

Hydrographic surveys, on the other hand, make use of a much deeper range to provide the information necessary for navigation.

Sediments and visibility

While bathymetric surveys are generally used in areas where it is clear, hydrographic surveys are used in both clear and turbid waters.

Although in some cases there may be turbidity issues, this is not often the case with bathymetric surveys.

Information for marine biologists

Hydrographic surveys are more appropriate for marine biologists who may want to use the information for biodiversity. This information can be used to locate different types of marine plants and animals, which are useful in the food chain.

Maximum water depth

While it is possible to use bathymetric surveys in very deep waters, they are not as appropriate for this type of work.

Hydrographic surveys are much better suited to ensure the accuracy of measurements in the deepest waters.

Applications of Bathymetric

Companies who engage in bathymetric surveys normally also have other services, such as sonar and risk assessment. Some examples of these are:

  • Geotechnical studies – used to determine where earthworks should occur so that it is possible to prevent or mitigate damage caused by erosion.
  • Dredging and surveys – used to determine the safety of navigation by using a dredge survey. This may be done in preparation for the project or while the project is ongoing.
  • Pollution prevention and removal – used in cases where water quality is of concern to determine if there are any areas in need of remediation.
  • Energy production and transmission – used to determine the stability of a dam or installation while it is under construction as well as after it has been completed.
  • Environmental management – used to analyze the surface level impact that a project may have on the environment and make modifications to ensure that impacts are minimal.


What is Bathymetric Survey?

The bathymetric survey is a type of survey that helps determine the depth of water in an area. The accuracy of this information is determined by the type and condition of the marine growth, which will in turn affect the amount of bottom features that are visible.

How are bathymetric surveys done?

There are many different methods that engineers can use to conduct bathymetric surveys. One of the most common is using echo sounders, which use electronics and sonar to provide the information necessary for bathymetric surveys.

They also have cone-beam sonar, which enables them to get a more detailed look at the area.

What does it involve?

Bathymetric surveys typically take place in areas that are deepwater and normally require a team of people to undertake them. The main person who is responsible for undertaking the surveys is a marine geologist.

They will use their expertise to determine the best way to get an accurate representation of the sea floor.

What are its benefits?

It is advantageous to engage in bathymetric surveys because they have many uses. From building dams, bridges, or other structures, to studying marine plants and animals, these surveys have many advantages that help engineers build better products and make them more sustainable.

What are some examples of its applications?

There are many different ways that bathymetric surveys can be used. One way is to help engineers determine the best place for them to build a dam, bridge, or other structure.

Another example would be to determine the feasibility of building navigation buoys in the area, which can help prevent accidents from occurring.

How much does a bathymetric survey cost?

The cost of a bathymetric survey will vary depending on the size, depth, and complexity of the survey. They can also take more or less time to complete, which will affect their cost as well.

Is a bathymetric survey accurate?

Depending on how skilled the marine geologist undertaking the work is and how they conduct it, they can be more accurate or less accurate.

This can have a significant impact on the cost of the work as well.

What is Bathymetry Data?

Bathymetry data is a map or set of measurements from a bathymetric survey. It gives an accurate representation of the ocean bed and any structures that may be present.

What are its uses?

Bathymetry data can have a wide variety of uses, including:

Sending divers to the best places for conserving marine life, so that they don’t destroy it.

Creating maps and charts of the area, which can then be used for other purposes such as planning certain structures, including pipelines and dams.

Sending divers to the best spots for finding fish and other forms of marine life. This will help ensure that they are kept in good health so that they continue to contribute much-needed information about the ocean floor and its inhabitants.

What is Bathymetry?

Bathymetry is a very important part of marine geology, which helps reveal information about underwater features. This information can then be used to help improve marine life as well as make living conditions better for people.

What should I consider when hiring this service?

There are many different types of bathymetric survey that can be done by engineers. They may need to get different licenses in order to undertake this work because it is not suitable for beginners.

They need to be able to determine the type of equipment that they will be using and how they will be using it. This should depend on the distance from safety and how deep the water is.

How do I get a license?

There are many different types of bathymetric survey that can be done by engineers. They may need to get different licenses in order to undertake this work because it is not suitable for beginners.

They need to be able to determine the type of equipment that they will be using and how they will be using it. This should depend on the distance from safety and how deep the water is.

What are some examples of this work?

There are a wide variety of projects that bathymetric surveys can help with, including:

Building dams and bridges, often require information about water depths that can be obtained through these surveys.

Building navigation buoys, which can help prevent accidents from occurring in the area.

The tools and technology that engineers use to conduct bathymetric surveys are constantly improving. These improvements help improve the quality of their work and the information they are able to provide to engineers who rely on these surveys.

How do you survey a lake?

There are commonly two methods for gathering data for a lake’s bottom. One approach involves using sonar to collect data points, while the other involves using a rod. A remote-control boat or a manned boat with an electric trolling motor can gather sonar.

What are some examples of Bathymetric survey equipment?

There are a number of different types of bathymetric survey equipment that can be used to carry out these surveys.

These include:

CTD sonar arrays that use multi-frequency radio waves to collect data about the depth, temperature and salinity of the water. They consist of two main parts – a transducer that produces the signals and a receiver that receives them.

Towed marine transducers are similar to CTD sonar, but were designed for underwater mapping. They are fitted to a boat or a boat with a motor, at the end of its tow rope.

Underwater acoustic mooring systems use an underwater acoustic transmitter, which is connected to the side of the boat. This transmits sonar signals into the water from the ship.

What is the Disadvantage of Bathymetric Survey?

The biggest downside to bathymetric surveys is the time that it takes. This can be an issue for some projects, as it can delay their completion.

What is the difference between Hydrographic and Bathymetric Survey?

Hydrographic surveys are used to measure the depths and characteristics of bodies of water. This information is used to create maps of the water’s surface and to help navigate ships safely.

Bathymetric surveys are used to measure the depths of the ocean floor. This information is used to create maps of the ocean floor and to help locate underwater resources.

Hydrographic surveys make use of the science of measuring and describing characteristics that impact maritime navigation, marine building, and other maritime-related activities.

Bathymetric surveys also give information on marine depths, but often provide a more precise topology of the bottom surface.

Why is bathymetry important?

Bathymetry is the study of the physical features of the sea floor. This includes the shape of the seafloor, the elevations of the seafloor, and the types of rocks and sediments that make up the seafloor.

Bathymetry is important for many reasons. One reason is that bathymetry can help us understand how the seafloor is formed.

This information is important for many reasons, including navigation, underwater exploration, and energy exploration. Bathymetry data is also used to study the ocean’s climate and to model the effects of global warming.

Bathymetry is important because it helps us to understand the physical and chemical properties of the ocean floor, which in turn helps us to understand the ocean’s role in the global climate and the environment.

Another reason is that bathymetry can help us find new oil and gas reserves.

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