We briefly describe three methods of seabed characterization which are ‘fit for purpose’, in that each approach is well suited to distinct objectives e.g. characterizing glacial geomorphology and shallow glacial geology vs. rapid prediction of seabed sediment distribution via geostatistics. The methods vary from manual ‘expert’ interpretation to increasingly automated and mathematically based models, each with their own attributes and limitations. We would note however that increasing automation and mathematical sophistication does not necessarily equate to improve map outputs, or reduce the time required to produce them. Judgements must be made to select methodologies which are most appropriate to the variables mapped, and according to the extent and presentation scale of final maps.


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