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Function of an Echo Sounder

[Summary]Echo sounding Illustration of echo sounding using a multibeam echosounder. Echo sounding is a type of SONAR used to determine the depth of water by transmitting sound pulses into water. The time interval between emission and return of a pulse is reco

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Echo sounding

Illustration of echo sounding using a multibeam echosounder.

Echo sounding is a type of SONAR used to determine the depth of water by transmitting sound pulses into water. The time interval between emission and return of a pulse is recorded, which is used to determine the depth of water along with the speed of sound in water at the time. This information is then typically used for navigation purposes or in order to obtain depths for charting purposes. Echo sounding can also refer to hydroacoustic "echo sounders" defined as active sound in water (sonar) used to study fish. Hydroacoustic assessments have traditionally employed mobile surveys from boats to evaluate fish biomass and spatial distributions. Conversely, fixed-location techniques use stationary transducers to monitor passing fish.

Sonar

French F70 type frigates (here, La Motte-Picquet) are fitted with VDS (Variable Depth Sonar) type DUBV43 or DUBV43C towed sonars

Sonar image of shipwreck of the Soviet Navy minesweeper T-297, formerly the Latvian Virsaitis in Finnish waters

Sonar (originally an acronym for SOund Navigation And Ranging) is a technique that uses sound propagation (usually underwater, as in submarine navigation) to navigate, communicate with or detect objects on or under the surface of the water, such as other vessels. Two types of technology share the name "sonar": passive sonar is essentially listening for the sound made by vessels; active sonar is emitting pulses of sounds and listening for echoes. Sonar may be used as a means of acoustic location and of measurement of the echo characteristics of "targets" in the water. Acoustic location in air was used before the introduction of radar. Sonar may also be used in air for robot navigation, and SODAR (an upward looking in-air sonar) is used for atmospheric investigations. The term sonar is also used for the equipment used to generate and receive the sound. The acoustic frequencies used in sonar systems vary from very low (infrasonic) to extremely high (ultrasonic). The study of underwater sound is known as underwater acoustics or hydroacoustics.

The Echosounder

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Multibeam Echo Sounders

NOAA hydrographic survey units use multibeam echo sounders to acquire water depth information in a survey area; to determine least water depths over critical items such as wrecks, obstructions, and dangers to navigation; and to detect objects in general.

Multibeam echo sounders, like other sonar systems, emit sound waves in the shape of a fan from directly beneath a ship's hull. These systems measure and record the time it takes for the acoustic signal to travel from the transmitter (transducer) to the seafloor (or object) and back to the receiver. In this way, multibeam sonars produce a “swath” of soundings (i.e., depths) for broad coverage of a survey area. The coverage area on the seafloor depends on the depth of the water, typically two to four times the water depth.

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