Developments in Mapping Riverine and Coastal Environmental Features Utilizing an AUV-based High Frequency Sonar System in the James River

Autumn N Kidwell1, Andrew S Davis1, Kyle Cullen1, Xander Dawson1, Daniel Huff1, David Honegger2, Merrick C Haller3, Craig L McNeil4, Samuel Griffith5, Edward F Braithwaite III5, Charles Key5 and Joe Calantoni6, (1)University of Texas at Austin, Applied Research Laboratories, Austin, TX, United States, (2)Oregon State University, Civil & Construction Engineering, Corvallis, OR, United States, (3)Oregon State University, School of Civil and Construction Engineering, Corvallis, OR, United States, (4)Applied Physics Laboratory University of Washington, Seattle, WA, United States, (5)U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, Stennis Space Center, MS, United States, (6)U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, Stennis Space Center, DC, United States
A research team at the Applied Research Laboratories at the University of Texas (ARL:UT) participated in the second collaborative field experiment associated with the Office of Naval Research Department Research Initiative known as Undersea Remote Sensing (USRS). From April 20-25, 2019, the USRS team completed a field campaign in James River, Virginia. This experiment was designed to better understand estuarine dynamics with a focus on the flood tide. ARL:UT deployed a forward-looking sonar and two side array sonars mounted on a REMUS 600 Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV). The system acoustically mapped and characterized the riverine and estuarine bathymetry. During the flood tide, a prominent front emerged. The REMUS 600 was deployed in the region of the front and collected acoustic scattering imagery from the turbulent features associated with the tidal front. From the collected data, ARL:UT analyzed the multidimensional structure of the plume which was compared with X-band radar imagery and in-situ water column measurements. Measurements from the sonar were also compared with seafloor samples for acoustic characterization of riverbed sedimentation. [Work sponsored by the Office of Naval Research.]