Portable Multibeam Sonar System | Flanders Marine Institute

Flanders Marine Institute

Platform for marine research

Portable Multibeam Sonar System

The portable Wide Band Multibeam Sonar System consists of, amongst others, an echosounder suited for nearly all environments, with a depth range of 1-275 m. The echosounder can produce high-resolution and precise three-dimensional data of the seabed.
It is used in combination with an integrated GNSS navigation system and an INS movement sensor, together forming the portable Multibeam Sonar System.

How does the portable Multibeam Sonar System work?

Thanks to its compact size and relatively easy installation, the system can be deployed from basically every ship, and as such it can be used to map areas that are hard to reach, even very shallow areas. This is achieved by sending out multiple soundwaves that are received back, by the transducers, in the form of echo.
This device allows the collection of both bathymetric data as well as the intensity of the reflected soundwave. The navigation system informs researchers of the position, movement and speed of a vessel while the unprocessed bathymetric data are visualized on a map in real-time. The multibeam transducers, movement sensor and the navigation system are compact, making the system ideal for use on highly mobile small vessels such as the VLIZ RIB Zeekat. Due to its high mobility, the system can also be used on land, allowing data collection on beaches and salt marshes. The entire system is stored in a travel case, increasing mobility and reducing transport costs. Due to the low weight of the movement sensor and the navigation system these can also be linked to other types of sonar, rendering the system usable on land: it is possible to investigate the topography of beaches and salt marshes.  

What is the portable Multibeam Sonar System used for?

The multibeam transducers, in combination with the positioning system and the navigation sensor, form the portable Multibeam Sonar System, which is of use to a variety of scientific disciplines:

  • Geomorphology: topographical surveys of the beach, complementing studies on aeolian sand transport by the CREST-project. The movement sensor and the navigation system are attached to a laserscanner, aloowing investigation of the swash-and surf zone. This allows a better understanding of the evolution of coast morphology.
  • Marine archaeological research: tracing and visualisation of e.g. ship wrecks and other sunken and/or buried structures.
  • Ecology: studying the functioning of the beach-dune system. This facilitates efficient and sustainable strategies for ecological management.
  • Coastal safety: increase of insight in coastal processes to predict damage to infrastructure caused by flooding helps to improve emergency plans.

Technical details

Norbit Wide Band Multibeam Sonar:

  • 7-210 ° swath coverage
  • Depth range: 1-275 m
  • Dimensions: 236 x 200 x 180 mm
  • Weight: < 4.5 kg (air), 3 kg (water)
  • Cable length: 8 m

Seabed SGR6-D S2 GNSS INERTIAL navigation system with an SBD IMU-S2 motion sensor:

  • Aluminium housing
  • Both real-time modus and post-processing available
  • Dimensions: 160 x 160 x 113 mm (motion sensor)
  • Weight: 2.6 kg

How to make use of the portable Multibeam Sonar System?

For more information about our rental service please contact VLIZ.

Use and conditions

Note: if you use the portable Multibeam Sonar System of VLIZ as a scientist, please refer to it in your publication(s) with the following sentence: ‘This work was supported by data & infrastructure provided by the Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ).’