Researchers at the Georgia Department of Natural Resources have developed a side-scan sonar methodology to map the habitat of navigable streams. The team of aquatic resources biologist Adam Keiser and GIS specialist Thom Litts have created a workflow that automates the processing of data from a side-imaging sonar unit into a GIS layer that reveals the underwater side of streams.
Litts and Kaeser use a Hummingbird 900-series Side Imaging system priced at less than $2,000 and motor along the middle of a stream at 5 mph, taking depth readings and sonar images that reach from bank to bank. The data is processed and imported into ArcGIS with much greater detail than traditional transect methods and with much less effort.
The team has published their methodology and findings in American Fisheries Society journals (December 2008 and April 2010), trained some 200 people in using the sonar.
Read more about this research and methodology via the Georgia DNR website.