An uncertainty model for deep ocean single beam and multibeam echo sounder data

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Comparing single beam and multibeam echo sounder data where surveys overlap we find that: 95% of multibeam measurements are repeatable to within 0.47% of depth; older single beam data can be at least as accurate as multibeam; single beam and multibeam profiles show excellent agreement at full-wavelengths longer than 4 km; archival sounding errors are not Gaussian; 95% of archival soundings in the northwest Atlantic are accurate to within 1.6% of depth; the 95th percentile error is about five times greater in pre-1969 data than in post-1968 data; many of the largest errors are located over large seafloor slopes, where small navigation errors can lead to large depth errors. Our uncertainty model has the form σ2 = a2 + (bz)2 + (cs)2, where 2σ is approximately the 95th percentile error, z is the depth, s is the slope, and a, b, c are constants we determine separately for pre-1969 and post-1968 data.

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