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A Benthic Habitat Monitoring Approach for Marine and Hydrokinetic Sites

Study Status: 
In Progress
Princple Investigator Contact Information: 

Name: Gene Revelas

Email: grevelas@integral-corp.com

Project Description: 

This project demonstrated a seafloor survey approach for generating detailed benthic habitat maps at MHK sites. The approach combined multibeam bathymetry and acoustic backscatter (multibeam echosounder, MBES) mapping with sediment profile imaging and plan view (SPI/PV) imaging as a rapid, cost-effective protocol. A primary technical innovation was the development of image processing software that automatically identifies and measures key features in the images.  We also designed, built, and tested a power SPI camera system that is effective in sampling firm substrates. This project is part of the DOE Triton Initiative

Funding Source: 

U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

Funding Contact: 

Yana Shininger

Location of Research: 

Olympia and Sequim, Washington; Newport, Oregon

Project Aims: 

It is important to document the physical and biological seabed habitat conditions at MHK sites before, during, and after device deployment. The objective of this project was to design and demonstrate a consistent, repeatable, and semi-automated seafloor survey method for generating broad-scale, high-resolution benthic habitat maps of MHK sites. The approach developed provides cost-effective, contiguous and high-resolution spatial coverage over broad areas, can be communicated universally, and can be used to inform the siting, permitting, and monitoring needs of regulators, developers, and other stakeholders.

Project Progress: 

This 3-year project will be completed in December 2019.  We have surveyed and generated detailed benthic habitat maps of three coastal areas, two near Sequim, Washington, and one at the PacWave South Wave Energy Test Site off Newport, Oregon.  We have a developed a computer vision image Analysis Platform (iSPI) that uses deep learning, neural network algorithms to automatically identify and measure key features in the images, such as grain size, redox depth, biogenic structures, and biota.  We have also designed, built, and field-tested a prototype power SPI camera that achieves improved penetration in firm substrates.

Key Findings: 

The focused combination of MBES acoustic and SPI/PV imaging technologies can be used to rapidly and cost-effectively map broad seafloor areas (6–10 km2) and document benthic habitat conditions at a detail level that is suitable to be an effective MHK site seabed monitoring tool.  The computer-automated image processing system generates consistent and repeatable physical and biologic image data sets that are key to ground-truthing the acoustic survey data.  The prototype power SPI camera provides a proof of concept for achieving improved SPI camera prism penetration in firm, sandy substrates but additional resources/work are needed to develop a readily deployable power SPI system.

Related Publications: 
  • Revelas, E., B. Sackmann, and C. Jones.  2019.  A streamlined and standardized benthic habitat mapping approach for marine and hydrokinetic site environmental assessments.  Poster presentation at 7th Annual Marine Energy Technology Symposium, Washington, DC.  April 1−3.
  • Revelas, E.C., B. Sackmann, A. Thurlow, and C. Jones.  2018.  Mapping benthic habitat conditions and seafloor deposits using sediment profile imaging and a semiautomated image processing system.  Proceedings of the Offshore Technology Conference, April 30–May 3, Houston, TX.
  • Sackmann, B., E. Revelas, and C. Jones.  2018.  Standardized and cost-effective benthic habitat mapping tools for marine and hydrokinetic site environmental assessments.  Poster presented at 6th Annual Marine Energy Technology Symposium, Washington, DC.  April 30–May 2.
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