We know more about the surface of the moon than we know about the seafloor. The Gebco Seabed 2030 project hit 25% coverage in 2023 and is hoping to reach its highly ambitious target of surveying 100% by 2030.
The production of seabed maps is the cornerstone of everything that happens at sea, from recreational boating and ship navigation to underwater construction and mining. It takes trustworthy data to create accurate, up-to-date maps of the seabed, which is usually acquired by multibeam echosounders or interferometric sonars .
In order for data to be classified as accurate enough for officially recognised maps or navigational charts, it must adhere to the highest standards set by the International Hydrographic Organisation, known as S-44 Exclusive order.
While the entire combined survey package determines if data can be collected to the desired S-44 standard, the quality of the sonar used is essential to attaining the best quality data. Interferometric sonar , like the GeoSwath 4, is an especially powerful and time saving approach, as it can collect far more data in a single survey line than an equivalent multibeam echosounder.
And while in the past this could mean extra time was needed in post-processing, today, we are using Artificial Intelligence (AI), to process the data in real-time. It is so fast that the surveyors can view it on board or remotely as the survey takes place. And once back in the office, only minimal processing is needed to ensure the data is ready to be used in seabed maps.