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Icpc Unep Report

Icpc Unep Report

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Published by Thushara Weerakkody

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Published by: Thushara Weerakkody on Jul 27, 2011
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Following the identification of potential cable landings that
are to be connected, it is most effective to conduct a full
review of pertinent available information in order to define
the most efficient and secure route that will then be fully
surveyed. This preliminary engineering, commonly referred
to as a desktop study (DTS), is generally conducted by
marine geologists with cable engineering experience who
assemble all available hydrographic and geologic infor ma -
tion about the pertinent region, commission fisheries and
permitting reports if appropriate, consi der the location and
history of existing nearby cables and other obstructions,
and then design an optimal route to be surveyed. The DTS
will also generally include visits to the landings to determine
where the cable crosses the beach and links to the cable
terminal. Visiting landing sites also provides an opportunity
to consult with local officials about possible cable hazards,
environmentally sensitive areas, requirements to gain a
permit to operate, fisheries, development plans and land
access, amongst other factors. A comprehensive DTS will
provide an optimal route design that can then be surveyed in
the most cost-effective manner.
Based on the DTS, an efficient survey can then be
designed along an optimized route to fully characterize that
route and to avoid hazards and/or environmentally signi fi -
cant zones that may not have been identified from existing
information. Surveys include water depth and seabed

topography, sediment type and thickness, marine faunal/
floral communities, and potential natural or human-made
hazards. Where appropriate, measurements of currents,
tides and waves may be needed to evaluate the stabi lity of
the seabed, movement of sediment and ocean conditions
that may affect cable-laying and maintenance operations.
A route survey commonly covers a swath of seabed
c.1km wide in water depths down to about 1,500 m, re -
flecting the need to bury cables for protection according to
local conditions. The width of the survey corridor can be
adjusted largely in consideration of the expected complexity
of the seabed, and the depth to which these complete
surveys are conducted will be based on local hazards,
particularly bottom trawl fishing and shipping activities,
which may require the cable to be buried. Water depth is
traditionally measured by echo-sounding, which has now
developed into seabed mapping or multibeamsystems.
Whereas con ven tional echo-sounders measure a single
profile of water depth directly under the ship, multibeam
systems provide full depth coverage of a swath of seabed
with a width that is three to five times the water depth
(Figure 3.1). Thus, in deep water, a single multibeam track
can be up to 20 km wide. As a result, sectors of the seabed
are fully covered by a dense network of depth soundings
that yield highly accur ate images and charts (Figure 3.2).
As multibeam data are collected, side-scan sonar
systems may be deployed to produce photographic-like
images of the seabed surface. Termed sonographs, the
images are used to identify zones of rock, gravel and sand,
structures such as sand waves, and human-made objects
ranging from shipwrecks to other cables. These images,
together with multibeam data and seabed photography,
have also been used successfully to map benthic habitats
and communities (e.g. Pickrill and Todd, 2003). If cable burial
is required, seismic sub-bottom profilers are deployed to
measure the type and thickness of sediment below the
seabed as well as possible natural hazards (Chapter 6). Like
echo-sounders, the seismic profilers direct acoustic energy
from the ship to the seabed. However, instead of just echo -
ing off the seabed surface, the energy also penetrates
through the substrate and reflects off layers of sediment to
produce records of their thickness and structure. Sediment
coring and other geotechnical testing of the seabed are
also generally conducted to help determine its stability and
suitability for cable burial.

3. Survey, lay and maintain


For depths where burial is not required, a single track
of a vessel using multibeam bathymetry will generally
suffice. The data acquired during such surveys are cons -
tantly monitored so that if an unexpected hazard, cable
obstruction or benthic community is identified, the surveyors
can immediately adjust the planned route and detour around
any hazardous or ecologically sensitive areas.
Ultimately, the desktop and field surveys will define
a viable cable route and identify the natural and human
activities that could impinge on the cable. This infor mation
guides the cable design so that it meets the specific con -
ditions of the route.

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