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Artificial reefs (ARs) are becoming a popular biological and management component in shallow water environments characterized by soft seabed, representing both important marine habitats and tools to manage coastal fisheries and resources. Because of the unstable nature of sediments, they require a detailed and systematic investigation that acoustic systems can provide. An AR into the marine environment acts as an open system with exchange of material and energy, altering the physical and biological characteristics of the surrounding area. The AR stability will depend on the balance of scour, settlement, and burial resulting from ocean conditions over time. The acoustic systems are efficient tools in monitoring the environmental evolution around ARs, whereas water turbidity can limit visual dive and ROV inspections. High-frequency multibeam echosounder offers the potential of detecting fine-scale distribution of reef units, providing an unprecedented level of resolution, coverage, and spatial definition. In 2008 the EM3002 multibeam was used to investigate the first scientifically-planned AR in Italy deployed during 1974-75. After 33 years the AR is almost in perfect condition. A considerable scouring around the structures and some vertical/horizontal movements of the single units have occurred. Moreover a deepening of the whole area hosting the AR was observed.

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Brazilian Journal of Oceanography, v. 59, p. 145-153

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