Hydrography News – August 2021

August 14, 2021

Upcoming Hydrography Events


Spatial Information Day and the Asia-Pacific Spatial Excellence Awards of South Australia (APSEA-SA) Dinner

  • This is scheduled to take place on Friday 17th September 2021 at the Adelaide Convention Centre
  • Join us to learn the latest applications, theories and techniques being applied in surveying, remote sensing & photogrammetry, building information modelling (BIM), and geographic information systems (GIS).
  • For more information refer to SID2021

HydroSpatial2021 Conference

  • 27 October, 2021 @ 9:00 am – 29 October, 2021 @ 4:30 pm at the Pullman Cairns International Hotel
  • The Australasian Hydrographic Society’s HydroSpatial2021 Conference will focus on how hydrography will develop in the future, noting the development of ‘digital twinning’ and the emerging name variants for hydrography such as ‘hydrospatial’ or ‘hydrogeomatics’.
  • The conference theme, Hydrography of the Future, morphs two modern yet wide-ranging aspects of the hydrographic surveying profession, and should draw papers from relevant scientific, technological, operational and environmental communities. The aim is to provide delegates with valuable insights, creative ideas and inspiration on how to harness current and future technologies, systems and processes so that they can deal with present challenges and prepare for a more sustainable future.
  • For more information refer to Hydrospatial2021

SSSI Webinar: Hydrographic Surveying at the Port of Newcastle

  • Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021, 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm AEST
  • The presentation will firstly look at the technical aspects of multibeam echosounders and how survey methodology is used to manage the sources of error. Secondly an outline of how hydrographic surveying assists the maintenance dredging process to maximise the loading of vessels within the port including examples from the recent flood event in March 2021.
  • REGISTER NOW

SSSI Webinar: Investigation of deep-towed MBES bathymetry and backscatter data

  • Monday, 13 Sep 2021, 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm WST
  • The speaker is Tanja Dujek, Research and Teaching Associate at HafenCity University Hamburg.
  • This presentation gives an introduction to the data processing and analysis of MBES data collected within the INDEX project (INDian ocean EXploration) by BGR (Bundesanstalt für Geowissenschaften und Rohstoffe / Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources). BGR signed an exploration license with the International Seabed Authority for polymetallic SMS in the Indian Ocean in 2015 and since then annual cruises are conducted into the German license area. The HafenCity University joined this project in 2017 and is in charge of the high-resolution MBES data processing.

Instruction Manuals – To Read or Not to Read?

The Hydrographic industry is continually innovating, meaning that we can easily feel bombarded with information and overwhelmed with continual learning. While it may seem obvious to say, ‘Always read the manual’, there is a general reluctance to do so unless one is unsuccessful in attempts to make something work. Experienced hydrographic surveyors know how much time can be saved and how appreciably more we learn when we do read the manual. So, for the young surveyors kicking off out on the water, consider this as a mentoring spiel.

We get excited to work with newly acquired technology and when assigned to you to learn, it’s because, as a valued employee, you have been selected to make the most out of it.  Not only in the equipment’s core purpose, but also to create a productive workflow, develop new product lines and be competent in its use.  There is a substantial investment in the equipment or software and in you - the user, the new ‘expert’ in the company; a faith that you are the best person for the job. 

So here we are, we’ve requested the latest and the most tech-loaded items hoping that they are going to save us time and enable extra benefits and functionality. After opening the packaging, we charge it, install software and away we go.  After a mildly successful attempt at operation, we skim read the instructions – hoping that will be enough. You know, straight to the index to find the specific issue, onto to the applicable page and read that section only, or maybe only the one or two sentences that look relevant. Back to the trial. Only, we fall short again. Because after all, aren’t these new specialised items so intuitive that we do not need to read the manual?

While it is true that not all instruction manuals are clear, unambiguous, or necessarily effective in their intent, it’s rare that we learn nothing from them.  Manufacturers are well aware that a well-written manual reduces their support activities for simple problems and functionality, empower the user with technical and process knowledge, and can result in users gaining more from products as well as prompting return purchasing.

Australian studies into how users relate to manuals found that most people do not read instructions, and that educated and young people are even less likely to do so. But what this does in our profession is under-utilise the equipment and the individual.  So, take note hydrographic surveyors!

Reading instructions needs to be part of your workplace culture. It saves time in setting up quality processes, work instructions, promotes learning – enabling users to discover extra features and capabilities of the product, and unquestionably provides safer operations!  Remember, that investment by your employer is in both the equipment and in YOU.  In return, to be the best hydrographic surveyor you can be, and when charged to be the company ‘expert’, please read the instructions.  We have faith in you, keep the faith!

Thanks to Richard Cullen, Hydrographic & Cadastral Survey Pty. Ltd, for writing and sharing this article


Cranes and Wires – Problem Prevention 


The following PDF is a presentation by Captain Paul Walton, Director/Marine Consultant, LOC Hong Kong, on ‘Ship Cranes / Wires – Problems and their Prevention’. 

Click here to view the PDF Presentation

Thanks to Peter Barr for sharing this presentation


Calling all mariners – an opinion piece for hydrographic surveying


Have you seen those CPA recruitment advertisements?  A young professional wearing sweatpants, jogging on a London bridge over the Thames.  World at their feet, everyone is smiling! Sounds really rewarding; what a fantastic career.  No disrespect, but hang on, we are talking about becoming an accountant here.  Yawn!  I take my hat off to the marketing teams who have made this look like a cool job.  Give me a break!

Now compare that with hydrographic surveying.  Say again, what’s that?  Collecting data in the marine environment to update charts for the safety of the navigation, conducting surveys of remote Pacific Islands for climate change adaption and surveying our coastlines for coastal zone management.  Sounds pretty cool.  Obviously not, because where are all the applicants clamouring for work experience; certainly, they’re not banging down my front door.


Fantastic experiences – a whale breaching during current survey operations north off Broome Western Australia for the HIPP, taken by junior hydrographic surveyor Kara Jurgens

To quote Julius Sumner Miller, why is this so? A combination of things probably.  Hydrographic surveying was largely conducted by the military, the Royal Australian Navy in our context, save for that commercial oil and gas work done out west.  And who does STEM these days anyway? Those subjects just don’t seem relevant.  And what are the pathways to a career – not all that clear.  Whose lead can I follow? I don’t see them jogging over London bridge. 

Well, here’s the rub.  If you have read Ian Jackson’s article in the April Geo Message under hydrographic news about the HIPP (Hydrographic Industry Partnership Program), you may have a revelation.  In Australia, hydrographic surveys for non-defence purposes have recently been outsourced to industry.  The strategic plan is that by 2050 all Australia’s continental shelf is to be surveyed to modern standards.  The program is now in its second year, and currently there are some 7 companies are on a panel of contractors.  I can’t speak for the other companies on the panel, but one general observation I can make is that it is currently very difficult to recruit staff to conduct this work.  And with an expanding requirement it sounds like guaranteed work for the next 30-years, offering great career development and an interesting and relevant field.

The thought of doing the same thing for 30 years may sound a bit mundane, but in reality, the hydro survey industry is exploding with exciting new technologies. Really! To meet the growing requirements there is a tremendous uptake in new technology.  Surveys are conducted using vessels of opportunity and uncrewed surface vehicles operating multi-beam echo-sounders (MBES), aircraft operating airborne lidar bathymetry (ALB) equipment and data is moved around the country in the cloud.  And we can squeeze a bit of 3D visualisation and artificial intelligence in there too!  There are surveys to be planned, data to be collected, data processing and GIS activities to create products.  Lots of meaningful work to be done, and just the time to get involved because this continuing evolving technology will require experienced management over the coming years.