See What Lies Underwater – Visualization of Water Depth in Ports

Water is a constantly moving element, which shapes its surroundings substantially. In ports, where the requirement of a stable and safe environment is self-evident, this needs to be considered in the planning of maintenance. The amount of accumulation or erosion changes in different locations, depending on the currents, tides and features of the seabed. Somewhere the depth can change for several meters in just months, while somewhere the seabed stays the same for decades.


Sonar surveys produce information about the depth levels of the seabed

Sonar surveys are a cost-effective way of gathering 3D data under water. Point cloud, a format of the data set produced from the sonar survey, represents the surface of the ocean floor. When talking about safe clearance depths, it is fundamental to ensure the positioning and used coordinate and height reference systems are correct in the survey.

The raw point cloud data from sonar surveys characteristically has plenty of error points, because the sonar’s beam reflects also from particles in the water, not only from the surface. These error points have a major effect to interpretation of the data. To make the data more understandable, the error points are typically removed in the data post-processing phase. However, even after post-processing, the point cloud data becomes truly understandable and usable only after proper visualization.


Visualization of survey data helps to enhance a variety of operations in seaports

  • Making depth charts
  • Checking safe clearance depths
  • Monitoring of the accumulation / erosion
  • Planning the dredging projects

GISGRO online asset management platform has many in-app features designed for visualization of the data for different purposes as presented in the video below.

Firstly, you can examine the depths by visualizing them with contours or color map. Both of them are calculated automatically while uploading the data to GISGRO, you just choose which way you want to express the depths.

Secondly, safe clearance depths can be inspected with a target depth tool. Just adjust the slider to the wanted depth and see which areas are below and above this limit. This is the easiest way to check for example, if the arriving ship needs to choose a different route or if the seabed depth level of the port area have changed from the placed limits.

In addition, visualization of depth levels is also useful in detecting erosion or accumulation due to the propeller currents, which usually happens near the structures and can affect their condition. Planning of the filling or dredging work is easier, when you know exactly where those areas are.

In our previous blog “The New Automated Way for Volume Calculation Saves Hours of Work” we discuss how to do volume calculations with few clicks only. The depth data is used to automatically derive information about the volume you need to dredge to achieve certain clearance depth, for example. You could also be interested in the article “How can dredging companies benefit from online 3D data platform?” But if you have done enough reading, just ask for a demo account to try these features!

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