Use of X-ray computed tomography for the estimation of parameters relevant to the modeling of acoustic scattering from the seafloor
Underwater sonar systems are increasingly being used at frequencies greater than 100 kHz for bathymetry measurement, seabed characterization and object detection [Proceedings of the 5th European Conference on Underwater Acoustics, Vol. 2, p. 1283]. In general, there are two main contributions to the backscattered acoustic wave due to seafloor properties: scattering from interface roughness (interface scattering) and from volume heterogeneities (e.g. due to sediment layering or bioturbation) in the first few decimeters of the seabed (volume scattering) [J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 95 (1994) 2441]. Until recently, modeling and validated measurements at these very high frequencies have been limited by the difficulty of accurately characterizing seabed properties at centimeter and sub-centimeter scales. This paper examines how X-ray computed tomography (CT) scans of seafloor cores have been used to obtain data sets that not only allow computation of both the statistical and the spatial distribution of density-related parameters relevant to volume scattering modeling, but also represent a valuable tool for selective, nondestructive visual analysis of inner features of cores. The main advantages of X-ray CT are the excellent spatial resolution and the ready availability of digital data sets that naturally lend themselves to computer processing. The methodology of the whole process, from core collection to data retrieval is described here, with special emphasis on image processing and density quantification issues.