Maltese Tattoo

Moment
Maltese Tattoo

Date:

Category:

Maltese Tattoo

Malta

Just 3.5km offshore of Malta is a beautiful pattern of lobes and ripples of sand overlaying maerl with sand and gravel.  This is backscatter imagery from a multibeam bathymetry system.  The dark areas show where the sonar signal has been absorbed by the maerl whereas the ripples of sand give strong backscatter and thus a lighter colour grey. These curls and swirls are not revealed by the bathymetry in this area.

The individual patterns are very reminiscent of the kind of henna tattoos encircling arms or ankles. Whether you can see ghosts, lions, dragons or something else depends on your imagination.

Depth range
50 m
Location
35° 59’ N 14° 26’ 30’’ E
Projection
Mercator 36°N
Data acquisition
University of Malta
Survey year
2010
Project
Hydro-acoustic surveying, quantitative seabed characterisation and habitat mapping of Maltese territorial waters.
Acoustic system
Kongsberg EM3002D multibeam echosounder
Acoustic data processing software
PRISM, NOC- Le Bas
Grid resolution
2 m
Image production
Tim Le Bas, National Oceanography Centre, UK 
Image caption
Tim Le Bas, National Oceanography Centre, UK