Milestone-Proposal:Chirp Sonar Subbottom Profiler

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Docket #:2016-06

This proposal has been submitted for review.

To the proposer’s knowledge, is this achievement subject to litigation? No

Is the achievement you are proposing more than 25 years old? Yes

Is the achievement you are proposing within IEEE’s designated fields as defined by IEEE Bylaw I-104.11, namely: Engineering, Computer Sciences and Information Technology, Physical Sciences, Biological and Medical Sciences, Mathematics, Technical Communications, Education, Management, and Law and Policy. Yes

Did the achievement provide a meaningful benefit for humanity? Yes

Was it of at least regional importance? Yes

Has an IEEE Organizational Unit agreed to pay for the milestone plaque(s)? Yes

Has the IEEE Section(s) in which the plaque(s) will be located agreed to arrange the dedication ceremony? Yes

Has the IEEE Section in which the milestone is located agreed to take responsibility for the plaque after it is dedicated? Yes

Has the owner of the site agreed to have it designated as an IEEE Milestone? Yes

Year or range of years in which the achievement occurred:


Title of the proposed milestone:

Chirp Sonar Subbottom Profiler, 1989

Plaque citation summarizing the achievement and its significance:

The chirp sonar, developed on this site in 1989, was the first quantitative subbottom profiler to generate wide dynamic range, artifact-free seismograms in real time. Key features included a computer-generated FM signal, directional arrays with low sidelobe levels and a towed vehicle designed to scatter bottom multiples. The chirp sonar provided unprecedented high resolution images of the subbottom seafloor for quantitative analysis.

200-250 word abstract describing the significance of the technical achievement being proposed, the person(s) involved, historical context, humanitarian and social impact, as well as any possible controversies the advocate might need to review.

IEEE technical societies and technical councils within whose fields of interest the Milestone proposal resides.

In what IEEE section(s) does it reside?

Providence Section

IEEE Organizational Unit(s) which have agreed to sponsor the Milestone:

IEEE Organizational Unit(s) paying for milestone plaque(s):

Unit: Providence Section
Senior Officer Name: Cathy Ann Clark

IEEE Organizational Unit(s) arranging the dedication ceremony:

Unit: Providence Section
Senior Officer Name: Cathy Ann Clark

IEEE section(s) monitoring the plaque(s):

IEEE Section: Providence Section
IEEE Section Chair name: Cathy Ann Clark

Milestone proposer(s):

Proposer name: Steven Crocker
Proposer email: Proposer's email masked to public

Proposer name: James Miller
Proposer email: Proposer's email masked to public

Please note: your email address and contact information will be masked on the website for privacy reasons. Only IEEE History Center Staff will be able to view the email address.

Street address(es) and GPS coordinates in decimal form of the intended milestone plaque site(s):

University of Rhode Island Narragansett Bay Campus 15 Receiving Road Narragansett, RI 02882 41.489324, -71.422818

Describe briefly the intended site(s) of the milestone plaque(s). The intended site(s) must have a direct connection with the achievement (e.g. where developed, invented, tested, demonstrated, installed, or operated, etc.). A museum where a device or example of the technology is displayed, or the university where the inventor studied, are not, in themselves, sufficient connection for a milestone plaque.

Please give the address(es) of the plaque site(s) (GPS coordinates if you have them). Also please give the details of the mounting, i.e. on the outside of the building, in the ground floor entrance hall, on a plinth on the grounds, etc. If visitors to the plaque site will need to go through security, or make an appointment, please give the contact information visitors will need. The plaque will be displayed on the Narragansett Bay campus of the University of Rhode Island on the site where the Chirp Sonar Subbottom Profiler was developed.

Are the original buildings extant?


Details of the plaque mounting:

The plaque will be installed at the University of Rhode Island Narragansett Bay Campus located within the Sheets Laboratory at 15 Receiving Road, Narragansett, Rhode Island. The Sheets Laboratory is the home of the Ocean Engineering Department, and the plaque will be installed outside of the department office where it will be viewable to students, faculty and the public.

How is the site protected/secured, and in what ways is it accessible to the public?

The plaque will be mounted inside the Sheets Laboratory where security is provided by employees of the university. The laboratory is open to the public and is frequently used to host various academic and industry events where the plaque will be on display.

Who is the present owner of the site(s)?

University of Rhode Island

What is the historical significance of the work (its technological, scientific, or social importance)? If personal names are included in citation, include justification here. (see section 6 of Milestone Guidelines)

The chirp sonar provided high resolution, artifact-free seismograms in real time [Ref. 1] with unprecedented subbottom resolution [Ref. 2]. The introduction of chirp sonar technology spurred a variety of research programs that continue to this day as new methods to extract useful information from the signal returns are developed. [Refs. 3-5] Of particular note, are methods to estimate the attenuation of acoustic signals in marine sediments [Ref. 6], a parameter that is of interest to the design and operation of naval sonar systems.

What obstacles (technical, political, geographic) needed to be overcome?

Development of subbottom profilers using chirp sonar technology in real time was hampered by the lack of sufficient computational and signal processing hardware and software. However, the introduction of powerful digital signal processing chips such as the AT&T DSP 32c and the 80386 microcomputer [Ref. 6] provided the computational throughput needed to support real time control, transmission, reception and processing of linear FM modulated acoustic signals with large time-bandwidth product as embodied in the chirp sonar. In addition, the theory relating geoacoustic parameters of marine sediments to features in the backscattered signals needed to be developed to realize the full potential of the chirp sonar technology. [Refs. 7,8]

What features set this work apart from similar achievements?

The chirp sonar included a number of features that set it apart from other marine seismic systems. The chirp sonar was an early adopter in its use of pulse compression to provide signal gain and to improve the resolution of the seismic profile. In addition, signals transmitted by the chirp sonar were designed to minimize ringing of the acoustic transducers by incorporating the impulse response of the transmit system into the output waveforms. Finally, the chirp sonar was provided with a system calibration that resulted in data that was used to produce quantitative estimates of the depth dependent properties of seafloor sediments. [Ref. 6]

Supporting texts and citations to establish the dates, location, and importance of the achievement: Minimum of five (5), but as many as needed to support the milestone, such as patents, contemporary newspaper articles, journal articles, or chapters in scholarly books. 'Scholarly' is defined as peer-reviewed, with references, and published. You must supply the texts or excerpts themselves, not just the references. At least one of the references must be from a scholarly book or journal article. All supporting materials must be in English, or accompanied by an English translation.

[1] S.G. Schock, “The chirp sonar - a high-resolution, quantitative subbottom profiler” (1989). Dissertations and Master’s Theses (Campus Access). Paper AA19008843.

[2] L.R. LeBlanc and L.A. Mayer, “The evolution of the chirp sonar high resolution sub-bottom sonar,” Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, vol. 130 (2011), pp. 2338. doi: 10.1121/1.3654356 Media:Ref_2_Leblanc_and_Mayer_2011.pdf

[3] M. Gutowski, J. Bull, T. Henstock, J. Dix, P. Hogarth, T. Leighton and P. White, “Chirp sub-bottom profiler source signature design and field testing,” Marine Geophysical Researches, vol. 23 (2002), pp. 481-492. doi: 10.1023/B:MARI.0000018247.57117.0e Media:Ref_3_Gutowski_etal_2002.pdf

[4] S.G. Schock, “A method for estimating the physical and acoustic properties of the sea bed using chirp sonar data,” IEEE Journal of Oceanic Engineering, vol. 29 (2004), pp. 1200-1217. doi: 10.1023/B:MARI.0000018247.57117.0e Media:Ref_4_Schock_2004.pdf

[5] G.H. Lee, H.J. Kim, D.C. Kim, B.Y. Yi, S.M. Nam, B.K Khim, and M.S. Lim, “The acoustic diversity of the seabed based on the similarity index computed from Chirp seismic data,” ICES Journal of Marine Science, vol. 66 (2009), pp. 277-236. doi: 10.1093/icesjms/fsn142 Media:Ref_5_Lee_etal_2009.pdf

[6] L.R. LeBlanc, L. Mayer, M. Rufino, S.G. Schock and J. King, “Marine sediment classification using the chirp sonar,” Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, vol. 91 (1992), pp. 107-115. doi: 10.1121/1.402758 Media:Ref_6_LeBlanc_etal_1992.pdf

[7] L.R. LeBlanc, S. Panda, S.G. Schock, “Sonar attenuation modeling for classification of marine sediments,” Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, vol. 91 (1992), pp. 116-126. doi: 10.1121/1.402759 Media:Ref_7_LeBlanc_etal_1992.pdf

[8] S.G. Schock, L.R. LeBlanc and L.A. Mayer, “Chirp subbottom profiler for quantitative sediment analysis,” Geophysics, vol. 54 (1989) pp. 445-450. doi: 10.1190/1.1442670 Media:Ref_8_Schock_etal_1989.pdf

Supporting materials (supported formats: GIF, JPEG, PNG, PDF, DOC): All supporting materials must be in English, or if not in English, accompanied by an English translation. You must supply the texts or excerpts themselves, not just the references. For documents that are copyright-encumbered, or which you do not have rights to post, email the documents themselves to Please see the Milestone Program Guidelines for more information.

Please email a jpeg or PDF a letter in English, or with English translation, from the site owner(s) giving permission to place IEEE milestone plaque on the property, and a letter (or forwarded email) from the appropriate Section Chair supporting the Milestone application to with the subject line "Attention: Milestone Administrator." Note that there are multiple texts of the letter depending on whether an IEEE organizational unit other than the section will be paying for the plaque(s).

Please recommend reviewers by emailing their names and email addresses to Please include the docket number and brief title of your proposal in the subject line of all emails.