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Becker, JJ, Sandwell DT.  2008.  Global estimates of seafloor slope from single-beam ship soundings. Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans. 113   10.1029/2006jc003879   AbstractWebsite

Rough topography on the ocean floor is a source of ocean mixing which is of interest to both physical oceanography and climate science. Most mixing has been attributed to high slopes of the large-scale structures of the deep ocean floor such as seamounts, continental margins, and mid-ocean ridge axes. In this paper, we show the small-scale but ubiquitous abyssal hills and fracture zones dominate the global map of rough topography. Much of this rugged seafloor occurs in the Southern Ocean on the flanks of the Pacific-Antarctic Rise and Southwest Indian Ridge. We present our results as a global map of the mean slope of the ocean floor, and as a global map of the ocean floor above the M(2) critical slope. We compare our results to multibeam and satellite bathymetry data to show that satellite bathymetry is not a valid proxy for multibeam measurements, but edited single-beam sonar data are adequate to provide a global perspective on features with horizontal wavelengths as small as 2 km.

Becker, JJ, Sandwell DT, Smith WHF, Braud J, Binder B, Depner J, Fabre D, Factor J, Ingalls S, Kim SH, Ladner R, Marks K, Nelson S, Pharaoh A, Trimmer R, Von Rosenberg J, Wallace G, Weatherall P.  2009.  Global Bathymetry and Elevation Data at 30 Arc Seconds Resolution: SRTM30_PLUS. Marine Geodesy. 32:355-371.   10.1080/01490410903297766   AbstractWebsite

A new 30-arc second resolution global topography/bathymetry grid (SRTM30_PLUS) has been developed from a wide variety of data sources. Land and ice topography comes from the SRTM30 and ICESat topography, respectively. Ocean bathymetry is based on a new satellite-gravity model where the gravity-to-topography ratio is calibrated using 298 million edited soundings. The main contribution of this study is the compilation and editing of the raw soundings, which come from NOAA, individual scientists, SIO, NGA, JAMSTEC, IFREMER, GEBCO, and NAVOCEANO. The gridded bathymetry is available for ftp download in the same format as the 33 tiles of SRTM30 topography. There are 33 matching tiles of source identification number to convey the provenance of every grid cell. The raw sounding data, converted to a simple common format, are also available for ftp download.

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Garcia, ES, Sandwell DT, Smith WHF.  2014.  Retracking CryoSat-2, Envisat and Jason-1 radar altimetry waveforms for improved gravity field recovery. Geophysical Journal International. 196:1402-1422.   10.1093/gji/ggt469   AbstractWebsite

Improving the accuracy of the marine gravity field requires both improved altimeter range precision and dense track coverage. After a hiatus of more than 15 yr, a wealth of suitable data is now available from the CryoSat-2, Envisat and Jason-1 satellites. The range precision of these data is significantly improved with respect to the conventional techniques used in operational oceanography by retracking the altimeter waveforms using an algorithm that is optimized for the recovery of the short-wavelength geodetic signal. We caution that this new approach, which provides optimal range precision, may introduce large-scale errors that would be unacceptable for other applications. In addition, CryoSat-2 has a new synthetic aperture radar (SAR) mode that should result in higher range precision. For this new mode we derived a simple, but approximate, analytic model for the shape of the SAR waveform that could be used in an iterative least-squares algorithm for estimating range. For the conventional waveforms, we demonstrate that a two-step retracking algorithm that was originally designed for data from prior missions (ERS-1 and Geosat) also improves precision on all three of the new satellites by about a factor of 1.5. The improved range precision and dense coverage from CryoSat-2, Envisat and Jason-1 should lead to a significant increase in the accuracy of the marine gravity field.

L
Lyons, SN, Sandwell DT, Smith WHF.  2000.  Three-dimensional estimation of elastic thickness under the Louisville Ridge. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth. 105:13239-13252.   10.1029/2000jb900065   AbstractWebsite

A three-dimensional approach to estimating elastic thickness is presented which uses dense satellite altimetry and sparse ship bathymetry. This technique is applied to the Louisville Ridge system to study the tectonic history of the region. The inversion is performed as both a first-order approximation and a nonlinear relationship between gravity and topography based on Parker's [1973] equation. While the higher-order effect on the gravity anomaly is nearly zero for most of the region, the magnitude is significant over the summits of the ridge. Nevertheless, the inclusion of the nonlinear terms has only a minor influence on the elastic thickness estimate within each region, lowering the value by similar to 1-2 km compared with the linear result. The incorrect assumption of two dimensionality for circular features exhibits a marked effect on the gravitational anomaly, resulting in false sidelobe structure of nearly 20 mGal for large seamounts. Our elastic thickness estimates are compared with the contradictory values obtained in previous studies by Cazenave and Dominh [1984] and Watts et al. [1988]. We find an increasing elastic thickness along the chain from southeast to northwest, with a discontinuity along the Wishbone scarp. The jump in elastic thickness values northwest of the scarp appears to be an indication of an age discontinuity caused by an extinct spreading center north of the ridge.

M
Marks, KM, Smith WHF, Sandwell DT.  2010.  Evolution of errors in the altimetric bathymetry model used by Google Earth and GEBCO. Marine Geophysical Research. 31:223-238.   10.1007/s11001-010-9102-0   AbstractWebsite

We analyze errors in the global bathymetry models of Smith and Sandwell that combine satellite altimetry with acoustic soundings and shorelines to estimate depths. Versions of these models have been incorporated into Google Earth and the General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans (GEBCO). We use Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC) multibeam surveys not previously incorporated into the models as "ground truth" to compare against model versions 7.2 through 12.1, defining vertical differences as "errors." Overall error statistics improve over time: 50th percentile errors declined from 57 to 55 to 49 m, and 90th percentile errors declined from 257 to 235 to 219 m, in versions 8.2, 11.1 and 12.1. This improvement is partly due to an increasing number of soundings incorporated into successive models, and partly to improvements in the satellite gravity model. Inspection of specific sites reveals that changes in the algorithms used to interpolate across survey gaps with altimetry have affected some errors. Versions 9.1 through 11.1 show a bias in the scaling from gravity in milliGals to topography in meters that affected the 15-160 km wavelength band. Regionally averaged (> 160 km wavelength) depths have accumulated error over successive versions 9 through 11. These problems have been mitigated in version 12.1, which shows no systematic variation of errors with depth. Even so, version 12.1 is in some respects not as good as version 8.2, which employed a different algorithm.

S
Sandwell, DT, Smith WHF.  2009.  Global marine gravity from retracked Geosat and ERS-1 altimetry: Ridge segmentation versus spreading rate. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth. 114   10.1029/2008jb006008   AbstractWebsite

Three approaches are used to reduce the error in the satellite-derived marine gravity anomalies. First, we have retracked the raw waveforms from the ERS-1 and Geosat/GM missions resulting in improvements in range precision of 40% and 27%, respectively. Second, we have used the recently published EGM2008 global gravity model as a reference field to provide a seamless gravity transition from land to ocean. Third, we have used a biharmonic spline interpolation method to construct residual vertical deflection grids. Comparisons between shipboard gravity and the global gravity grid show errors ranging from 2.0 mGal in the Gulf of Mexico to 4.0 mGal in areas with rugged seafloor topography. The largest errors of up to 20 mGal occur on the crests of narrow large seamounts. The global spreading ridges are well resolved and show variations in ridge axis morphology and segmentation with spreading rate. For rates less than about 60 mm/a the typical ridge segment is 50-80 km long while it increases dramatically at higher rates (100-1000 km). This transition spreading rate of 60 mm/a also marks the transition from axial valley to axial high. We speculate that a single mechanism controls both transitions; candidates include both lithospheric and asthenospheric processes.

Sandwell, D, Fialko Y.  2004.  Warping and cracking of the Pacific plate by thermal contraction. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth. 109   10.1029/2004jb003091   AbstractWebsite

Lineaments in the gravity field and associated chains of volcanic ridges are widespread on the Pacific plate but are not yet explained by plate tectonics. Recent studies have proposed that they are warps and cracks in the plate caused by uneven thermal contraction of the cooling lithosphere. We show that the large thermoelastic stress produced by top-down cooling is optimally released by lithospheric flexure between regularly spaced parallel cracks. Both the crack spacing and approximate gravity amplitude are predicted by elastic plate theory and variational principle. Cracks along the troughs of the gravity lineaments provide conduits for the generation of volcanic ridges in agreement with new observations from satellite-derived gravity. Our model suggests that gravity lineaments are a natural consequence of lithospheric cooling so that convective rolls or mantle plumes are not required.

Sandwell, DT, Smith WHF.  2005.  Retracking ERS-1 altimeter waveforms for optimal gravity field recovery. Geophysical Journal International. 163:79-89.   10.1111/j.1365-246X.2005.02724.x   AbstractWebsite

We have reprocessed ERS-1 radar altimeter waveforms using an algorithm designed to minimize sea surface slope error and decouple it from significant wave height (SWH) error. Standard waveform retracking estimates three parameters-arrival time, SWH and amplitude. We show that errors in retracked estimates of arrival time and SWH are inherently correlated because of the noise characteristics of the returned waveform. This suggests that some of what is called 'sea state bias' in the literature may be caused by correlated errors rather than true electromagnetic or skewness bias. We have developed a retracking algorithm that reduces this error correlation and makes the resolution of sea surface slope signals independent of sea state. The main assumption is that the SWH varies smoothly along the satellite track over wavelengths of 90 km. This approach reduces the rms error in sea surface slope to only 62 per cent of that of standard retracking methods. While our method is optimized for gravity field recovery, it may also improve the resolution of sea surface height signals of interest to physical oceanographers.

Sandwell, DT, Smith WHF, Gille S, Kappel E, Jayne S, Soofi K, Coakley B, Geli L.  2006.  Bathymetry from space: Rationale and requirements for a new, high-resolution altimetric mission. Comptes Rendus Geoscience. 338:1049-1062.   10.1016/j.crte.2006.05.014   AbstractWebsite

Bathymetry is foundational data, providing basic infrastructure for scientific, economic, educational, managerial, and political work. Applications as diverse as tsunami hazard assessment, communications cable and pipeline route planning, resource exploration, habitat management, and territorial claims under the Law of the Sea all require reliable bathymetric maps to be available on demand. Fundamental Earth science questions, such as what controls seafloor shape and how seafloor shape influences global climate, also cannot be answered without bathymetric maps having globally uniform detail. Current bathymetric, charts are inadequate for many of these applications because only a small fraction of the seafloor has been surveyed. Modern multibeam echosounders provide the best resolution, but it would take more than 200 ship-years and billions of dollars to complete the job. The seafloor topography can be charted globally, in five years, and at a cost under $100M. A radar altimeter mounted on an orbiting spacecraft can measure slight variations in ocean surface height, which reflect variations in the pull of gravity caused by seafloor topography. A new satellite altimeter mission, optimized to map the deep ocean bathymetry and gravity field, will provide a global map of the world's deep oceans at a resolution of 6-9 kin. This resolution threshold is critical for a large number of basic science and practical applications, including: determining the effects of bathymetry and seafloor roughness on ocean circulation, mixing, climate, and biological communities, habitats, and mobility; understanding the geologic processes responsible for ocean floor features unexplained by simple plate tectonics, such as abyssal hills, seamounts, microplates, and propagating rifts;. improving tsunami hazard forecast accuracy by mapping the deep-ocean topography that steers tsunami wave energy; mapping the marine gravity field to improve inertial navigation and provide homogeneous coverage of continental margins; providing bathymetric maps for numerous other practical applications, including reconnaissance for submarine cable and pipeline routes, improving tide models, and assessing potential territorial claims to the seabed under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Because ocean bathymetry is a fundamental measurement of our planet, there is a broad spectrum of interest from government, the research community, industry, and the general public. Mission requirements. The resolution of the altimetry technique is limited by physical law, not instrument capability. Everything that can be mapped from space can be achieved now, and there is no gain in waiting for technological advances. Mission requirements for Bathymetry from Space are much less stringent and less costly than typical physical oceanography missions. Long-term sea-surface height accuracy is not needed; the fundamental measurement is the slope of the ocean surface to an accuracy of similar to 1 prad (1 mm km(-1)). The main mission requirements are: improved range precision (a factor of two or more improvement in altimeter range precision with respect to current altimeters is needed to reduce the noise due to ocean waves); - fine cross-track spacing and long mission duration (a ground track spacing of 6 km or less is required. A six-year mission would reduce the error by another factor of two); moderate inclination (existing satellite altimeters have relatively high orbital inclinations, thus their resolution of east-west components of ocean slope is poor at low latitudes. The new mission should have an orbital inclination close to 60 degrees or 120 degrees so as to resolve north-south and east-west components almost equally while still covering nearly all the world's ocean area); near-shore tracking (for applications near coastlines, the ability of the instrument to track the ocean surface close to shore, and acquire the surface soon after leaving land, is desirable).

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Watts, AB, Sandwell DT, Smith WHF, Wessel P.  2006.  Global gravity, bathymetry, and the distribution of submarine volcanism through space and time. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth. 111   10.1029/2005jb004083   AbstractWebsite

[ 1] The seafloor is characterized by numerous seamounts and oceanic islands which are mainly volcanic in origin. Relatively few of these features (< similar to 0.1%), however, have been dated, and so little is known about their tectonic setting. One parameter that is sensitive to whether a seamount formed on, near, or far from a mid-ocean ridge is the elastic thickness, T(e), which is a proxy for the long-term strength of the lithosphere. Most previous studies are based on using the bathymetry to calculate the gravity anomaly for different values of T(e) and then comparing the calculated and observed gravity anomaly. The problem with such an approach is that bathymetry data are usually limited to single-beam echo sounder data acquired along a ship track and these data are too sparse to define seamount shape. We therefore use the satellite-derived gravity anomaly to predict the bathymetry for different values of T(e). By comparing the predicted bathymetry to actual shipboard soundings in the vicinity of each locality in the Wessel global seamount database, we have obtained 9758 T(e) estimates from a wide range of submarine volcanic features in the Pacific, Indian, and Atlantic oceans. Comparisons where there are previous estimates show that bathymetric prediction is a robust way to estimate T(e) and its upper and lower bounds. T(e) at sites where there is both a sample and crustal age show considerable scatter, however, and there is no simple relationship between T(e) and age. Nevertheless, we are able to tentatively assign a tectonic setting to each T(e) estimate. The most striking results are in the Pacific Ocean where a broad swath of "on-ridge'' volcanism extends from the Foundation seamounts and Ducie Island/Easter Island ridge in the southeast, across the equator, to the Shatsky and Hess rises in the northwest. Interspersed among the on-ridge volcanism are "flank ridge'' and "off-ridge'' features. The Indian and Atlantic oceans also show a mix of tectonic settings. Off-ridge volcanism dominates in the eastern North Atlantic and northeast Indian oceans, while flank ridge volcanism dominates the northeastern Indian and western south Atlantic oceans. We have been unable to assign the flank ridge and off-ridge estimates an age, but the on-ridge estimates generally reflect, we believe, the age of the underlying oceanic crust. We estimate the volume of on-ridge volcanism to be similar to 1.1 x 10(6) km(3) which implies a mean seamount addition rate of similar to 0.007 km(3) yr(-1). Rates appear to have varied through geological time, reaching their peak during the Late/Early Cretaceous and then declining to the present-day.

Wessel, P, Sandwell DT, Kim SS.  2010.  The Global Seamount Census. Oceanography. 23:24-33. AbstractWebsite

Seamounts are active or extinct undersea volcanoes with heights exceeding similar to 100 m. They represent a small but significant fraction of the volcanic extrusive budget for oceanic seafloor and their distribution gives information about spatial and temporal variations in intraplate volcanic activity. In addition, they sustain important ecological communities, determine habitats for fish, and act as obstacles to Currents, thus enhancing tidal energy dissipation and ocean mixing. Mapping the complete global distribution will help constrain models of seamount formation as well as aid in understanding marine habitats and deep ocean circulation. Two approaches have been used to map the global seamount distribution. Depth soundings from single- and multibeam echosounders can provide the most detailed maps with up to 200-m horizontal resolution. However, soundings from the > 5000 publicly available cruises sample only a small fraction of the ocean floor. Satellite altimetry can detect seamounts taller than similar to 1.5 km, and. studies using altimetry have produced seamount catalogues holding almost 13,000 seamounts. Based on the size-frequency relationship for larger seamounts, we predict over 100,000 seamounts > 1 km in height remain uncharted, and speculatively 25 million > 100 m in height. Future altimetry missions could improve on resolution and significantly decrease noise levels, allowing for an even larger number of intermediate (1-1.5-km height) seamounts to be detected. Recent retracking of the radar altimeter waveforms to improve the accuracy of the gravity field has resulted in a twofold increase in resolution. Thus, improved analyses of existing altimetry with better calibration from multibeam bathymetry could also increase census estimates.

Z
Zhang, SJ, Sandwell DT, Jin TY, Li DW.  2017.  Inversion of marine gravity anomalies over southeastern China seas from multi-satellite altimeter vertical deflections. Journal of Applied Geophysics. 137:128-137.   10.1016/j.jappgeo.2016.12.014   AbstractWebsite

The accuracy and resolution of marine gravity field derived from satellite altimetry mainly depends on the range precision and dense spatial distribution. This paper aims at modeling a regional marine gravity field with improved accuracy and higher resolution (1' x V') over Southeastern China Seas using additional data from CryoSat-2 as well as new data from AltiKa. Three approaches are used to enhance the precision level of satellite-derived gravity anomalies. Firstly we evaluate a suite of published retracking algorithms and find the two-step retracker is optimal for open ocean waveforms. Secondly, we evaluate the filtering and resampling procedure used to reduce the full 20 or 40 Hz data to a lower rate having lower noise. We adopt a uniform low-pass filter for all altimeter missions and resample at 5 Hz and then perform a second editing based on sea surface slope estimates from previous models. Thirdly, we selected WHU12 model to update the corrections provided in geophysical data record. We finally calculated the 1' x 1' marine gravity field model by using EGM2008 model as reference field during the remove/restore procedure. The root mean squares of the discrepancies between the new result and DTU10, DTU13, V23.1, EGM2008 are within the range of 1.8-3.9 mGal, while the verification with respect to shipboard gravity data shows that the accuracy of the new result reached a comparable level with DTU13 and was slightly superior to V23.1, DTU10 and EGM2008 models. Moreover, the new result has a 2 mGal better accuracy over open seas than coastal areas with shallow water depth. (C) 2016 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Zhang, SJ, Sandwell DT.  2017.  Retracking of SARAL/AltiKa Radar Altimetry Waveforms for Optimal Gravity Field Recovery. Marine Geodesy. 40:40-56.   10.1080/01490419.2016.1265032   AbstractWebsite

The accuracy of the marine gravity field derived from satellite altimetry depends on dense track spacing as well as high range precision. Here, we investigate the range precision that can be achieved using a new shorter wavelength Ka-band altimeter AltiKa aboard the SARAL spacecraft. We agree with a previous study that found that the range precision given in the SARAL/AltiKa Geophysical Data Records is more precise than that of Ku-band altimeter by a factor of two. Moreover, we show that two-pass retracking can further improve the range precision by a factor of 1.7 with respect to the 40 Hz-retracked data (item of range_40 hz) provided in the Geophysical Data Records. The important conclusion is that a dedicated Ka-band altimeter-mapping mission could substantially improve the global accuracy of the marine gravity field with complete coverage and a track spacing of <6 km achievable in similar to 1.3 years. This would reveal thousands of uncharted seamounts on the ocean floor as well as important tectonic features such as microplates and abyssal hill fabric.