Investigating the effect of oil spills
on the environment and public health.
revert menu
Funding Source: Year One Block Grant - The Alabama Marine Environmental Science Consortium

Project Overview

Feasibility study of applying multi-spectral acoustical imaging techniques to estimate physical distribution of oil-derived substances in the water columns in the Alabama Gulf coast and Mobile Bay

Principal Investigator
University of South Alabama
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering


This project would explore and study the feasibility of using acoustical imaging at several distinctive frequencies in the low to high frequency range (25KHz to 500KHz) to generate a multispectral acoustical three-dimensional (3D) imaging data cube, with two spatial dimensions representing the pixels in the covered sea area, while the third dimension will represent the wavelength of the frequencies used. That data could then be used along with a recently developed set of algorithms for multispectral images to detect oil and oil-derived substances either suspended in water or on the seafloor.

To the best of the authors' knowledge, the concept of using multi-spectral acoustical 3D imaging has never been used for subsurface and seafloor imaging. This type of imaging is hypothesized to contain much more information compared to a single frequency based acoustical imaging. The potential wealth of the obtained acoustical imaging data can then be exploited to detect oil and oil-derived substances that are either suspended in the water column beneath the surface or deposited on the seafloor.  The authors have extensive background in multispectral/hyperspectral imaging, which will be used for multispectral acoustical subsurface imaging. The potential benefits for such application are enormous since it may lead to the detection of minute concentrations of hydrocarbon in water columns as well as on the seafloor.

This research was made possible by a grant from BP/The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative.