David R. Palmer
Peter A. Rona
NOAA/AOML, 4301 Rickenbacker Cswy., Miami, FL 33149
Acoustic imaging provides opportunities for studying naturally occurring plumes in the ocean that are not available using any other measurement technique. An overview is presented of recent experiments that recorded images of naturally occurring plumes using high-frequency sonar systems. These experiments, which involve different types of plumes, different scattering mechanisms, and different ocean environments, illustrate the value of acoustic imaging and form the basis for the design of future experiments and the development of new plume-imaging sonar systems. The types of plumes considered include shallow submarine springs, plumes formed from hydrocarbon seepage, and those resulting from hydrothermal activity. The possible physical mechanisms responsible for the acoustic backscattering are considered. The advantages of computer-assisted construction of plume images during and after an experiment are also illustrated.