HULU SUNGAI PERAK BED SEDIMENT MAPPING USING UNDERWATER ACOUSTIC SONAR
Development in acoustic survey techniques in particular side scan sonar have revolutionized the way we are able to image, map and understand the riverbed environment. It is now cost effective to image large areas of the riverbed using these techniques and the backscatter image created from surveys provides base line data from which thematic maps of the riverbed environment including maps of morphological geology, can be derived when interpreted in conjunction with in situ sampling data. This article focuses on investigation characteristics of sediments and correlation of side scan backscatter image with signal strength. The interpretation of acoustic backscatter rely on experienced interpretation by eye of grey scale images produced from the data. A 990F Starfish Side Scan Sonar was used to collect and develop a series of sonar images along 6 km of Hulu Sungai Perak. Background sediments could be delineated accurately and the image textures could be linked to the actual river floor appearance through grab sampling. A major difference was found in the acoustic returns from the two research area studies: the upstream area shows much rougher textures. This is due to an actual differences in riverbed roughness, caused by a difference in bottom currents and sediment dynamics in the two areas. The highest backscatter correlates with coarsest and roughness sediment. Result suggest that image based backscatter classification shows considerable promise for interpretation of side scan sonar data for the production of geological maps.