Subbottom mapping of shallow gas using medium to low frequency multibeam sounders.

Schneider von Deimling, Jens, Weinrebe, Wilhelm, Bürk, Dietmar, Thot, Z., Endler, R., Fossing, H., Spiess, V. and Rehder, Gregor (2010) Subbottom mapping of shallow gas using medium to low frequency multibeam sounders. [Poster] In: AGU Fall Meeting 2010. , 13.-17.12.2010, San Francisco, USA .

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Abstract

Kongsberg (EM120, EM1002) and ELAC (SB3050) multibeam systems of low to medium frequencies and various subbottom profilers were used to analyze the seafloor of the Baltic Sea between twenty and one hundred meter water depth. The working areas are characterized by soft mud allowing for significant penetration by both subbottom and multibeam signals, especially if lower frequencies were used. Locally shallow gas was found transforming the low-reflectivity mud acoustically into a strong volume scatterer. Single beam subbottom profiles across these shallow gas areas show distinct blanking effects below one and four meters below the seafloor. We demonstrate that low frequency multibeam systems are ideally suited to map those shallow gas areas over the entire swath of 140°. First the depth of the working areas was successfully determined with the shallow to mid-water 95kHz multibeam system. No backscatter anomaly was found while crossing the transition zone between mud and gas-bearing mud. In contrast a 12kHz survey over the same location reveals several meters deeper soundings. The resulting bathymetric data mimics the subbottom morphology of a till structure rather than the seafloor. The reason is strong penetration into the mud up to ten meters, even though the system was manually optimized for correct bottom detection. This makes the 12kHz system prone to subsurface mapping of strong reflectors within very soft sediments. High scattering gas bubbles embedded in the mud could be mapped by backscatter anomalies and misinterpretation of the shallow gas front as bottom echoes occurred. Angular range backscattering strength analysis suggests distinct differences between gassy and non-gassy areas and demonstrates the sensitivity of the low frequency multibeam sounder on free gas even on the very outer beams of the swath. The data is groundtruthed by subbottom profiling and geochemical sampling both indicating free gas. Even small gas pockets of only a few meters extension can be resolved demonstrating the advantages of high resolution and large coverage multibeam mapping compared to single beam surveys. Similar results were gathered using a mobile 50kHz system. (a) Backscatter amplitude chart of EM120. The red rectangle focuses on a transition zone between blue color/no-shallow-gas and red color/shallow-gas area; the inlet shows amplitude data from the 95kHz system not showing any transition. (b) PARASOUND subbottom data. The transition zone (red arrow) between shallow gas and no shallow gas plots exactly at the same location as seen in the multibeam data (a).

Document Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Poster)
Research affiliation: OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB4 Dynamics of the Ocean Floor > FB4-GDY Marine Geodynamics
Date Deposited: 25 Sep 2012 10:20
Last Modified: 25 Sep 2012 10:20
URI: http://oceanrep.geomar.de/id/eprint/15112

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