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    IMCA issues guidelines for multibeams in offshore surveys

    Organisations and Associations // February 1, 2002
    The IMCA has developed new guidelines for the use of multibeam echo sounders in the offshore industry.

    Although multibeam echosounders (MBES) have been in use since the 1960s, their track record in commercial marine operations has can be traced back only as far as the 1990s. The growth in their use has been, in part, due to the ability of these instruments to cover wide swathes of the sea floor in a single pass.

    With high-resolution bathymetry obtainable over wide areas and with acoustic frequencies ranging from 10kHz to over 500kHz, multibeam echosounders offer the potential for great accuracy and provide detailed sea floor imagery with scales of economy unavailable from traditional single-beam echosounders.

    At the time of publication, some 700 systems had been built by at least ten manufacturers world-wide, of which more than 40 per cent had gone into commercial operations.

    However, no specifications or guidelines could be found that specifically addressed the use of MBES for offshore surveying. IMCA's Offshore Survey Division Management Committee established a workgroup to oversee the development of these guidelines, as ameans of augmenting existing (in the main more general) documentation and to provide a guide for future specifications.

    The guidelines draw heavily on a number of existing standards and published papers by persons eminent in their field and were distributed widely for consultation among key users and client groups prior to publication. IMCA was particularly pleased to receive the endorsement of UKOOA's Survey & Positioning Committee following its valuable collaboration, review and input.

    IMCA says it intends to review and update the guidelines on a regular basis - users of the document are encouraged to forward their comments to IMCA.

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