Clutter from non-discrete seabed structures
Clutter, or discrete target-like returns, is the most significant problem in the employment of active sonar. It is well understood that discrete objects, which are of the same spatial scale as the target and which possess a significant impedance contrast to the surrounding ocean, can lead to clutter. Here a somewhat counter-intuitive result is shown: that discrete target-like returns can occur from slowly varying seabed structures. The range dependence of the seabed can be weak and smooth—due to changes in layer thicknesses, sound speed, or both. Thus, this clutter mechanism may be a viable hypothesis for areas in which seabed clutter has been observed, but no discrete features, buried or proud, could be found. By using a broadband source, the time-frequency evolution of this clutter could be a useful way to discriminate against other kinds of clutter; e.g., that due to discrete objects.