Backscatter Working Group (BSWG)


– Aug. 2017: Two additional papers have been published as part of the MGR Special Issue, see: MGR Special Issue.

– May 2017: Three more papers have been accepted for the MGR Special Issue, see: MGR Special Issue.

– Mar. 2017: The MGR Special Issue on backscatter data is well under way. Eight papers submitted and 8 more in preparation. Still time to submit. Check Marine Geophysical Research and the call for papers for more information.

– Nov. 2016: We have a new official contact email! Requests to be added to the update email list or inquiries to the editors can be sent to

– May 2015: BSWG Guidelines & Recommendations have been released! Download available here.


The Workshop “Multibeam Backscatter – State of the Technology, Tools, & Techniques”, organized by QPS and others on 5 May 2013 prior to the GeoHab conference in Rome, gathered nearly 100 specialists of the domain. The main issues discussed were data quality control, the need for normalized acquisition and processing procedures, and the expectation for better documentation from sonar manufacturers and software developers on their respective products.  The list of contributions presented at the workshop held in Rome is available here for download.

As a consequence, the Working Group on Sonar Backscatter Data Acquisition and Processing, hereafter Backscatter Working Group or BSWG, was created (decision taken during the general assembly at the end of the GeoHab 2013 conference).

Purpose of the Working Group

The ultimate intention of the Working Group is that backscatter data acquired from differing systems, or processed through differing software tools, generate consistent values over a same area under the same conditions; and that these data are scientifically meaningful and usable by end-users from various application domains (geoscience, environment, hydrography…).

Within this framework, the purpose of the Working Group is to propose:

  • To users: guidelines or best practice approaches for the acquisition and processing of backscatter data from seafloor-mapping sonars;
  • To sonar manufacturers and software developers: recommendations for the improvement and further development of systems and processing tools.


The working group will progress through a series of virtual workshops and circulating documents. The onus will be on a chairing group (see below) to keep the momentum and focus.

Chairing Group

In the first instance the Working Group is open to all interested parties, but should be led by a chairing group.

To optimise the chances of success and in particular of uptake of the recommendation by the various communities, the Working Group has obtained a commitment from a core number of people who are a from a mix of users of different levels (acquisition, processing, and down-stream users), manufacturers (software and hardware) and research scientists and engineers.

The Chairing Group is composed of:

  • Xavier Lurton:  Ifremer – Brest, FR
  • Geoffroy Lamarche: NIWA – Wellington, NZ
  • Larry Mayer: University of New Hampshire – Durham,NH, US
  • Tom Weber: University of New Hampshire – Durham,NH, US
  • Vanessa Lucieer: IMOS-UTAS – Hobart, TAS, AU
  • Craig  Brown: Nova Scotia Community College – Dartmouth, NS, CA
  • Glen Rice: NOAA – Durham, NH, US
  • Alexandre Schimel: NIWA – Wellington, NZ
  • Erin Heffron: University of New Hampshire – Durham, NH, US

A document presenting and outlining the BSWG is available as a PDF.

Work Content, Scope & Outputs

Schedule, Status & Updates


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