Sonar Scanning: Improving efficiency in gathering underwater data

Feb 28, 2019

Hydrographic scanning, the gathering of underwater data can be useful in multiple scenarios, from understanding harbour silting to rescue operations while flooding. Conventional methods of scanning underwater have involved skilled divers and manual collection of data. This can be a time consuming and in some cases, a risky approach.  Accuracy can also be an issue in cases such as floods, as rising floodwaters and debris can create low visibility and other safety hazards. A safer alternative is sonar scanning – it can improve efficiency in underwater surveying. 

Sonar scanning for flood data:

Sonar scanners such as the MS1000 can monitor and gather underwater images remotely, making them beneficial in many scenarios. These systems can be used in low-visibility areas such as tunnels and murky waters to collect information including – but not limited to – quantity and the type of debris, structural damage to infrastructure, and gather information that support rescue operations. Since sonar scanning systems measure acoustically and not visually, even in the most challenging environments, relative accuracies of 50mm can be achieved.

Ideal use cases are inspection of bridges and support piles for debris, undermining and scour. Trash racks and plunge pools on dam infrastructure can also be readily scanned.

Features and uses of sonar scanning:

Several sonar scanning systems come with in-built software and have many advanced features. These features include target tracking, 3D profiling, and data interpretation such as measuring length, area and geo-referencing of the data. One hydrographic tool our surveyors use the MS1000 High-Resolution Scanning Sonar & Software System for underwater inspection, survey and visualisation. This system is often used in collaboration with our multibeam sonar systems to provide detailed terrain models surrounding the asset being inspected. For example, surveying upstream and downstream of a bridge being inspected for scour, to better understand the riverbed topography.

Other than collecting flood data, sonar scanning can also be used for different purposes – from mapping sub-surface structures, to carrying out routine inspections of underwater infrastructure including bridges, tunnels and pipes. Sonar scanning systems can help gather data more efficiently and from remote locations that would otherwise be inaccessible. Considering the lower cost of technology and the speed at which information is collected, sonar scanning can prove to be cost effective. It can be used frequently to check the integrity of existing underwater structures, and the digital images pieced together to get a holistic view.

At Veris, we use the latest sonar scanning technology for hydrographic surveying. Several Veris vessels have undertaken sonar scanning along the East Coast of Australia and other waterways. Contact us to find out how we can help with better understanding your underwater assets.  



Nathan Green

Hydrographic Surveyor, Tasmania

Nathan specialises in inshore and coastal hydrographic surveys. He currently works within the technical and business development space of our hydrographic division. Graduating with Honours from the University of Tasmania in computer science. Nathan has used his experience in software development and hardware integration to develop the Veris Hydrographic capability.