Habitat Mapping of Conch Reef, Florida: Geoacoustic and Benthic Photographic Mapping from an AUV in Support of NEEMO XV

Art Trembanis
The Coastal, Hydrodynamics, and Engineering Lab (CSHEL) University of Delaware
Friday, Oct. 7, 2011, 3:00pm
Chase 130

In early May 2011, a 4-day survey was conducted at Conch Reef, FL surrounding the Aquarius Underwater habitat. The platform for these surveys was a Gavia autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) equipped with phase measuring swath bathymetry, side-scan sonar, color still camera, and a HD video camera. Water quality parameters (i.e., salinity, temperature, and dissolved oxygen) were concurrently measured. Although these surveys were developed as part of a precursor mission in support of the NEEMO (NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations) XV program, they also provide an unprecedented level of reef habitat detail critical for coral reef monitoring and management throughout the Florida Keys Marine Sanctuary. A previous NOAA multibeam survey in 2007 provided baseline coverage (1.5 km x .45 km), but had a hole in the Carpenter Basin around the Aquarius Habitat, due to the challenges of surveying from a large vessel with significant underwater obstacles present. Our new survey succeeded in collecting data around the habitat in the previously unmapped region. The collected data provides 0.5 m resolution bathymetry in the Carpenter Basin and then 1.0 m resolution in the rest of the survey area (2 km x 0.8 km). The collected geoacoustic data is being analyzed with a statistical segmentation program (QTC SwathView) for classification of the seabed into distinct acoustic bottom types, which will be ground-truthed by the collocated benthic images.


My interests are in the observation and modeling of coastal morphodynamics, the morphological interplay of hydrodynamics (waves and currents) with sediment and seabed features (morphology). Additional interests include beach morphology and beach nourishment practices, decadal-scale coastal behavior, barrier island morphology and storm response, scour processes, oceanographic observing systems, and the use and development of autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs).