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Course details

This course provides an understanding of hydrographic surveying in sufficient depth to enable the student to plan, carry out, and evaluate proposals for such a survey. Topics include Canadian legislation, oceanography and marine geosciences, marine positioning, depth determination using echo-sounders and multi-beam systems, side-scan sonar, some non-acoustic depth determination techniques, tides, hydrographic charts, data management, hydrographic survey specifications and project management.


  • 50% in GEOM 3050 and 50% in MATH 3512
  • Course registration is restricted to students with completion of 2-year Geomatics diploma.



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Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of the course, the student will be able to:

  • Describe the three main pieces of Canadian legislation that govern a large portion of hydrographic surveys conducted in Canadian waters.
  • Demonstrate how Canada's offshore international boundaries are determined.
  • Explain why a basic knowledge of oceanography and marine geosciences is necessary for the planning and conduct of hydrographic surveys.
  • Recognize some key instrumentation used to collect oceanographic and marine geosciences physical samples and digital data.
  • Relate the physical properties of water to the speed of sound in water and demonstrate how to calculate sound speed from measurements of temperature, pressure (depth), and salinity.
  • Evaluate the various coordinate systems involved for the horizontal positioning for a hydrographic survey.
  • Differentiate between the various vertical datums used in hydrographic operations and methods used to establish them.
  • Explain the functions of marine positioning instrumentation used to determine system orientation and vessel heave.
  • Illustrate the various sources of errors of horizontal positioning when conducting a hydrographic survey.
  • Describe the principles of long, short and ultra-short baseline acoustic positioning system modes.
  • Perform a water level datum transfer, for both tidal and non-tidal waters.
  • Explain how acoustic system performance is affected by frequency, beamwidth, pulse-length, pulse repetition rate, detection threshold, bandwidth, and resolution.
  • For single-beam echo-sounders:
    • Explain the differences between narrow and wide beam transducers.
    • Describe the various calibration methods.
    • Explain the reductions needed to be made to measured depths due to water level variations, draft and transducer separation.
    • Assess the uncertainty in soundings due to errors in the positioning system, echo-sounder, water level measurement, vessel motion and seabed topography and explain how to select appropriate methods for controlling or reducing sounding uncertainty for specific applications.
  • For multi-beam echo-sounders:
    • Explain the basic principles of multi-beam sonar transmit and receive beam forming and steering.
    • Analyze and process a multibeam sensor calibration dataset, known as a Patch Test
  • For side-scan sonar systems:
    • Explain how side-scan sonar systems work.
    • Interpret side-scan sonar records.

Effective as of Winter 2018

Related Programs

Hydrographic Surveying (GEOM 8195) is offered as a part of the following programs:

School of Construction and the Environment

  1. Geomatics
    Bachelor of Science Full-time


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