Acoustic Remote Sensing in Maritime Archaeology

Rory Quinn

in The Oxford Handbook of Maritime Archaeology

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780195375176
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Acoustic Remote Sensing in Maritime Archaeology

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  • Archaeology
  • Archaeological Methodology and Techniques


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This article offers an introduction to acoustic remote sensing. In shipwreck studies, acoustic remote sensing has traditionally been used for reconnaissance surveys and for site relocation. With the advent of higher-resolution sonar systems, the focus in shipwreck studies has shifted toward site reconstruction and studies of site formation. Acoustic systems provide baseline data at rates higher than those of experienced dive teams. This article describes how acoustic data is generated. It describes the profiling methods such as single-beam echo-sounders and sub-bottom profilers, and swath methods such as side-scan sonar and multibeam echo-sounders. The last few years have seen developments of multielement sonar platforms, which allow for the acquisition of true concurrent sonar data sets from one platform. Every phase of development in sonar technology brings an increase in sensors' resolving capability and therefore the ability to image smaller and smaller artifacts in greater detail.

Keywords: acoustic remote sensing; reconnaissance surveys; site relocation; sonar systems; shipwreck studies; profiling methods

Article.  8271 words. 

Subjects: Archaeology ; Archaeological Methodology and Techniques

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