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Several algorithims that display, enhance and analyze side-scan sonar images of the seafloor, have been developed by the University of Washington, Seattle, as part of an Office of Naval Research funded program in acoustic image analysis. One of these programs, PORTAL, is a small (less than 100K) image display and enhancement program that can run on MS-DOS computers with VGA boards. This program is now available in the public domain for general use in acoustic image processing.

PORTAL is designed to display side-scan sonar data that is stored in most standard formats, including SeaMARC I, II, 150 and GLORIA data. (See image.) In addition to the “standard” formats, PORTAL has a module “front end” that allows the user to modify the program to accept other image formats. In addition to side-scan sonar data, the program can also display digital optical images from scanners and “framegrabbers,” gridded bathymetry data from Sea Beam and other sources, and potential field (magnetics/gravity) data. While limited in image analysis capability, the program allows image enhancement by histogram manipulation, and basic filtering operations, including multistage filtering. PORTAL can print reasonably high-quality images on Postscript laser printers and lower-quality images on non-Postscript printers with HP Laserjet emulation. Images suitable only for index sheets are also possible on dot matrix printers.