Cold-water coral reefs are hotspots of biological diversity and play an important role as carbonate factories in the global carbon cycle. Reef-building corals can be found in cold oceanic waters around the world. Detailed knowledge on the spatial location and distribution of coral reefs is of importance for spatial management, conservation and science. Carbonate mounds (reefs) are readily identifiable in high-resolution multibeam echosounder data but systematic mapping programs have relied mostly on visual interpretation and manual digitizing so far. Developing more automated methods will help to reduce the time spent on this laborious task and will additionally lead to more objective and reproducible results. In this paper, we present an attempt at testing whether rule-based classification can replace manual mapping when mapping cold-water coral carbonate mounds. To that end, we have estimated and compared the accuracies of manual mapping, pixel-based terrain analysis and object-based image analysis. To verify the mapping results, we created a reference dataset of presence/absence points agreed upon by three mapping experts. There were no statistically significant differences in the overall accuracies of the maps produced by the three approaches. We conclude that semi-automated rule-based methods might be a viable option for mapping carbonate mounds with high spatial detail over large areas.
Architecture, Civil Engineering, Surveying