Skip Links

USGS - science for a changing world

Data Series 856

Archive of Digital Chirp Subbottom Profile Data Collected During USGS Cruise 12BIM03 Offshore of the Chandeleur Islands, Louisiana, July 2012

By Arnell S. Forde, Jennifer L. Miselis, and Dana S. Wiese

Study Area MapAbstract

From July 23 - 31, 2012, the U.S. Geological Survey conducted geophysical surveys to investigate the geologic controls on barrier island framework and long-term sediment transport along the oil spill mitigation sand berm constructed at the north end and just offshore of the Chandeleur Islands, La. (figure 1). This effort is part of a broader USGS study, which seeks to better understand barrier island evolution over medium time scales (months to years). This report serves as an archive of unprocessed digital chirp subbottom data, trackline maps, navigation files, Geographic Information System (GIS) files, Field Activity Collection System (FACS) logs, and formal Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) metadata. Gained (showing a relative increase in signal amplitude) digital images of the seismic profiles are also provided. Refer to the Abbreviations page for expansions of acronyms and abbreviations used in this report.

The USGS St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center (SPCMSC) assigns a unique identifier to each cruise or field activity. For example, 12BIM03 tells us the data were collected in 2012 during the third field activity for that project in that calendar year and BIM is a generic code, which represents efforts related to Barrier Island Mapping. Refer to for a detailed description of the method used to assign the field activity ID.

All chirp systems use a signal of continuously varying frequency; the EdgeTech SB-424 system used during this survey produces high-resolution, shallow-penetration (typically less than 50 milliseconds (ms)) profile images of sub-seafloor stratigraphy. The towfish contains a transducer that transmits and receives acoustic energy and is typically towed 1 - 2 m below the sea surface. As transmitted acoustic energy intersects density boundaries, such as the seafloor or sub-surface sediment layers, energy is reflected back toward the transducer, received, and recorded by a PC-based seismic acquisition system. This process is repeated at regular time intervals (for example, 0.125 seconds (s)) and returned energy is recorded for a specific duration (for example, 50 ms). In this way, a two-dimensional (2-D) vertical image of the shallow geologic structure beneath the ship track is produced. Figure 2 displays the acquisition geometry. Refer to table 1 for a summary of acquisition parameters and table 2 for trackline statistics.

The archived trace data are in standard Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG) SEG Y rev. 0 format (Barry and others, 1975); the first 3,200 bytes of the card image header are in ASCII format instead of EBCDIC format. The SEG Y files may be downloaded and processed with commercial or public domain software such as Seismic Unix (SU) (Cohen and Stockwell, 2010). See the How To Download SEG Y Data page for download instructions. The web version of this archive does not contain the SEG Y trace files. These files are very large and would require extremely long download times. To obtain the complete DVD archive, contact USGS Information Services at 1-888-ASK-USGS or The printable profiles provided here are GIF images that were processed and gained using SU software and can be viewed from the Profiles page or from links located on the trackline maps; refer to the Software page for links to example SU processing scripts. The SEG Y files are available on the DVD version of this report or on the Web, downloadable via the USGS Coastal and Marine Geoscience Data System ( The data are also available for viewing using GeoMapApp ( and Virtual Ocean ( multi-platform open source software.

Detailed information about the navigation system used can be found in table 1 and the Field Activity Collection System (FACS) logs. To view the trackline maps and navigation files, and for more information about these items, see the Navigation page.

First posted June 5, 2014

For additional information, contact:
Director, St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center
U.S. Geological Survey
600 4th Street South
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
(727) 502-8000

Suggested citation:

Forde, A.S., Miselis, J.L., and Wiese, D.S., 2014, Archive of digital chirp subbottom profile data collected during USGS cruise 12BIM03 Offshore of the Chandeleur Islands, Louisiana, July 2012: U.S. Geological Survey Data Series 856, 1 DVD, available at

ISSN 2327-638X (online)










Accessibility FOIA Privacy Policies and Notices logo U.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
Page Contact Information: Contact USGS
Page Last Modified: Monday, November 28, 2016, 07:29:20 PM