Characterizing Indian Ocean manganese nodule-bearing seafloor using multi-beam angular backscatter
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Application of quantitative angular backscatter modelling to manganese nodule-bearing areas of the Central Indian Ocean Basin (CIOB) has been initiated at NIO during the year 1998. Studies were aimed to establish the suitability of seafloor backscattering in delineating seafloor parameters characteristic of nodule-rich sediments. In this paper, processed Hydrosweep multi-beam backscatter data from 45 spot locations in the CIOB (where nodule samples are available) were analysed to estimate seafloor and sediment volume roughness parameters. The application of a composite roughness model to a nodule-bearing region (6,600 km2) of the CIOB, to determine seafloor interface roughness parameters from a multi-beam backscatter dataset, shows only four power law sets. The results attest 80% of the nodule-bearing seafloor to be smooth in terms of interface roughness parameters at micro-topographic level. The sediment volume roughness parameters are dominant only in 29% of the smooth interface roughness sites. This indicates that 51% of the seafloor area possesses negligible (interface and volume) roughness. A critical analysis using pseudo-side-scan records from 12 selected locations in the study area affirms the combined importance of the seafloor interface and sediment volume roughness parameters for precise determination of manganese nodule abundance.
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