Parkinson, F.; Douglas, K.; Li, Z.; Meijer, A.; Stacey, C.D.; Kung, R., and Podhorodeski, A., 0000. A generalized semiautomated method for seabed geology classification using multibeam data and maximum likelihood classification.

This paper presents a GIS-based model to perform semiautomated seabed classification that can act as a first-pass, pseudoclassified surficial geological map. The user can then edit the output into a finalized map in less time than by manual classification. The model uses maximum likelihood classification with unsupervised classification through iterative self-organizing clusters. This model is fully contained within the ArcGIS software suite as a ModelBuilder workflow composed of geoprocessing tools and Python script tools. Model inputs tested include different combinations of multibeam echosounder–derived data: slope, backscatter, and terrain ruggedness. Furthermore, to test the assumption of Gaussian distribution of input data required for maximum likelihood classification, Box–Cox power transformations were applied to slope and backscatter data and were used as model inputs. To illustrate the performance of the model, two locations are highlighted as case studies: Milbanke Sound and Spiller Channel, located on the central coast of British Columbia, Canada. Association between model outputs and ground-truth classes was generally weak to moderate when measured using Cramér’s V association scores. Overall, the slope and backscatter parameter model had the highest scores of association. Results from an overlay analysis comparing model outputs with user-confirmed polygons show that the slope and backscatter model performs best in regions with distinct changes in the hardness of sediments but that in fjord regions dominated geologically by steeper bathymetric change, the slope parameter model may perform better. However, all model outputs had difficulty delineating bedrock units. The model has the flexibility to identify certain seabed habitat features as well, including glass sponge reefs—biologically active bioherms that have led to marine protected area designations in other areas of British Columbia.

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