Dataset description: BackscatterA [USGS SWATH]--Monterey Canyon and Vicinity, California

This part of DS 781 presents data for the acoustic-backscatter map of Monterey Canyon and Vicinity map area, California. Backscatter data are provided as separate grids depending on mapping system and processing method. These metadata describe acoustic-backscatter data collected and processed by the U.S. Geological Survey. The raster data files are included in "," which is accessible from These data accompany the pamphlet and map sheets of Dartnell, P., Maier, K.L., Erdey, M.D., Dieter, B.E., Golden, N.E., Johnson, S.Y., Hartwell, S.R., Cochrane, G.R., Ritchie, A.C., Finlayson, D.P., Kvitek, R.G., Sliter, R.W., Greene, H.G., Davenport, C.W., Endris, C.A., and Krigsman, L.M. (P. Dartnell and S.A. Cochran, eds.), 2016, California State Waters Map Series-Monterey Canyon and Vicinity, California: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2016-1072, 48 p., 10 sheets, scale 1:24,000, The acoustic-backscatter map of Monterey Canyon and Vicinity, California, was generated from acoustic-backscatter data collected by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), by Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), and by California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB). Mapping for the entire map area was completed between 1998 and 2014 using a combination of 30-kHz Simrad EM-300 and 200-kHz/400-kHz Reson 7125 multibeam echosounders, as well as 234-kHz and 468-kHz SEA SWATHplus bathymetric sidescan-sonar systems. The USGS mapping was completed in 2009 and 2014. Within the final imagery, brighter tones indicate higher backscatter intensity, and darker tones indicate lower backscatter intensity. The intensity represents a complex interaction between the acoustic pulse and the seafloor, as well as characteristics within the shallow subsurface, providing a general indication of seafloor texture and composition. Backscatter intensity depends on the acoustic source level, the frequency used to image the seafloor, the grazing angle, the composition and character of the seafloor, including grain size, water content, bulk density, and seafloor roughness, and some biological cover. Harder and rougher bottom types such as rocky outcrops or coarse sediment typically return stronger intensities (high backscatter, lighter tones), whereas softer bottom types such as fine sediment return weaker intensities (low backscatter, darker tones).
Keywordssea-floor characteristics, sonar methods, interferometric sonar, image mosaics, sea-floor acoustic reflectivity, geospatial datasets, maps and atlases, marine geophysics
Data typesMultibeam
Amount110.9 MB


Activities and equipment

Atlas Hydrosweep multibeam-echosounder