Multibeam echosounders map the seafloor by emitting a beam of sound from the hull of the ship and recording the sound signal after it is reflected off the seafloor. Based on the time elapsed between when the sound is emitted  and when it is recorded, oceanographers can determine the depth of the seafloor. Additionally, the intensity of the reflected sound signal can be used to the determine the hardness of the seafloor, which is indicative of the type of habitat that is found on the seafloor (credit: NOAA).

Multibeam echosounders map the seafloor by emitting a beam of sound from the hull of the ship and recording the sound signal after it is reflected off the seafloor. Based on the time elapsed between when the sound is emitted and when it is recorded, oceanographers can determine the depth of the seafloor. Additionally, the intensity of the reflected sound signal can be used to the determine the hardness of the seafloor, which is indicative of the type of habitat that is found on the seafloor. Image courtesy of NOAA.

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