A large proportion of the Earth’s surface is the deep sea. Numerous fields require access to seafloor topography and geomorphology. With the emergence of different types of underwater vehicles, especially the commercialization of near-seafloor micro-topographical mapping sonars, near-seafloor micro-topographical detection in the deep sea is possible. Near-seafloor micro-topographical exploration allows accurate detection of the seafloor using multibeam echosounder, side-scan sonar, and bathymetric side-scan sonar carried on-board various vehicles, including deep-tow, autonomous underwater vehicles, remotely operated vehicles, and human-occupied vehicles. Near-seafloor micro-topographical detection can obtain more accurate micro-topography and micro-geomorphology of the seafloor compared to full sea depth topographical detection. In this chapter, the basic principles of three types of near-seafloor micro-topographical mapping sonars are analyzed. Then, four types of underwater vehicles that are suitable for near-seafloor micro-topographical mapping are briefly discussed. Factors affecting mapping and detection results are presented using the Jiaolong human-occupied vehicle and its bathymetric side-scan sonar as an example. Next, the entire data processing and mapping methods are described. Finally, two typical detection results obtained by the Jiaolong bathymetric side-scan sonar in deep-sea are given.
Part of the book: Earth Crust