High-resolution side-scan sonar has proven to be a very effective tool for stuyding and understanding the surficial geology of the seafloor. Since the mid-1970s, the US Geological Survey has used high-resolution side-scan sonar systems for mapping various areas of the continental shelf. However, two problems typically encountered included the short range and the high sampling rate of high-resolution side-scan sonar systems and the acquisition and real-time processing of the enormous volume of sonar data generated by high-resolution suystems. These problems were addressed and overcome in August 1989 when the USGS conducted a side-scan sonar and bottom sampling survey of a 1000-sq-km section of the continental shelf in the Gulf of Farallones located offshore of San Francisco. The primary goal of this survey was to map an area of critical interest for studying continental shelf sediment dynamics. This survey provided an opportunity to test an image processing scheme that enabled production of a side-scan sonar hard-copy mosaic during the cruise in near real-time.
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Near-real-time mosaics from high-resolution side-scan sonar