Geomorphology of the Irish Rockall Trough, North Atlantic Ocean, mapped from multibeam bathymetric and backscatter data

Fabio Sacchetti, Sara Benetti, Aggeliki Georgiopoulou, Paul Dunlop, Rory Quinn

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Multibeam echosounder data collected by the Irish National Seabed Survey (INSS) between 2000 and 2001 in the Rockall Trough have been used by many projects to analyze the geomorphology and the sedimentary processes of the margins of the Trough. However, due to the low spatial resolution of 150- 250 m and the amount of artefacts still embedded in the publicly available data, many geomorphological features have been overlooked. This paper shows that the same multibeam dataset can provide more detailed information on seabed processes when the latest hydrographic and backscatter post-processing techniques are used to reduce data artefacts and improve data quality and spatial resolution. The resulting map, presented here at a scale of 1:450,000, is based on a semi-automatic and manual interpretation of geomorphological features highlighted using a new and improved 30 m bathymetric grid and a multibeam backscatter mosaic obtained using the GEOCODER post-processing algorithm. Overall, the map shows a complex sedimentological scenario where the Rockall Bank Mass Flow failure, the Donegal-Barra trough-mouth fan, along slope structures such as the Feni Contourite Drift and the Porcupine moat dominate the Rockall Trough flanks and basin floor. Smaller features such as canyon and gully systems, escarpments, coral mounds, volcanic mounds and iceberg scours have also been mapped in detail. In addition, the interpretation of the backscatter mosaic allows for the first time the identification of depositional lobes generated by downslope mass transport and canyon drainage systems, particularly where these features completely lose their bathymetric expression.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)60-81
    Number of pages22
    JournalJournal of Maps
    Publication statusPublished - 29 Aug 2011


    Dive into the research topics of 'Geomorphology of the Irish Rockall Trough, North Atlantic Ocean, mapped from multibeam bathymetric and backscatter data'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this