Exploring the Depths: Progress and Challenges in Surveying Underwater Environments


Del Pizzo Silvio Del Pizzo

Silvio Del Pizzo

Department of Science and Technologies, University of Naples "Parthenope", Italy

Nocerino Erica Nocerino

Erica Nocerino

Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Sassari, Italy

Menna Fabio Menna

Fabio Menna

3DOM - 3D Optical Metrology Unit, Bruno Kessler Foundation, Italy

Angrisano Antonio Angrisano

Antonio Angrisano

Department of Engineering, University of Messina, Italy

Capra Alessandro Capra

Alessandro Capra

University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Italy

Rossi Paolo Rossi

Paolo Rossi

University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Italy


Surveying and positioning in underwater environments present unique challenges and complexities due to the properties of water, limited visibility, and harsh conditions encountered below the sea surface. Furthermore, underwater, accurate georeferencing poses challenges due to the difficulty in materializing fixed and durable references due to the highly dynamic nature of marine environments. Traditional terrestrial positioning and surveying methods may not be directly applicable underwater, necessitating the use of underwater systems specifically designed for marine applications. Underwater surveying instruments such as sonar transducers, acoustic positioning systems, pressure sensors and underwater cameras require accurate calibration to ensure reliable measurements and positioning. Calibration procedures must account for variations in water properties and environmental conditions to maintain measurement precisions.

Integrating data from multiple sensors and sources can be essential to achieve comprehensive underwater surveys. However, integrating data from disparate sensors with different spatial and temporal resolutions presents challenges in data fusion, alignment, and interpretation. Advanced data processing and fusion techniques are required to reconcile inconsistencies and extract meaningful information from heterogeneous datasets. Addressing these challenges requires interdisciplinary collaboration among marine scientists, survey engineers, geospatial experts, and oceanographers to develop innovative technologies, methodologies, and best practices for effective surveying and positioning in underwater environments.


In recent years, several multi-disciplinary approaches have emerged as key tools for mapping and monitoring underwater environments, such as: photogrammetry, LiDAR, MBES. This special session aims to explore the latest advancements, challenges, and applications of geomatics in underwater settings. The session will bring researchers to exchange insights and share cutting-edge research findings related to underwater surveys.

Topics of interest include, but are not limited, to:

  • Technological Innovations: Discussions on innovative technologies such as multibeam and single-beam echosounders, side-scan sonar, LiDAR, photogrammetry, and autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) for underwater surveys.
  • Data Processing and Analysis: Methods and algorithms for processing and analyzing geomatic data acquired from underwater surveys, including data fusion, point cloud processing, feature extraction, and 3D modeling.
  • Applications in Marine Science: Exploration of how geomatics contribute to marine science disciplines such as oceanography, marine biology, coastal geomorphology, and marine archaeology.
  • Environmental Monitoring and Management: Use of geomatics for environmental monitoring, habitat mapping, coastal zone management, and underwater infrastructure inspection.
  • Challenges and Future Directions: Identification and discussion of challenges, limitations, and future research directions in underwater geomatics, including issues related to data accuracy, resolution, integration, and accessibility.

Keywords: geomatics, underwater environments, marine science, data processing, environmental monitoring, technological innovations, challenges, interdisciplinary collaboration.


Silvio Del Pizzo, is an Associate Professor at the Department of Science and Technology of the University of Naples "Parthenope" and a PArthenope Navigation Group (PANG) Laboratory member. He previously worked as Assistant Professor (RTDb) at the same University; where he obtained a PhD in Geodetic and Topographic Science at the University of Naples Parthenope in May 2013. His research activities are focused on the geomatic field and specifically his main interests are Camera sensors, Photogrammetry, Computer Vision, and Remote Sensing applied to navigation, furthermore during the last years he worked on GNSS positioning, Visual Navigation, and Measurements Integration algorithms. From August 2013 he worked as a postdoctoral researcher in several projects of the University of Naples “Parthenope” with Navigation, Positioning, and Remote Sensing as the main topics. He is the author of more than 50 publications in journals and international conferences

Erica Nocerino, is currently a tenure-track assistant professor in geomatics at the University of Sassari, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences. Her research interests are in 3D digitization techniques, with the aim of developing procedures and guidelines for the generation of 3D models of known and verified quality in application fields, such as cultural heritage, archaeology, biology and medicine. In the last four years, she has focused on underwater photogrammetry topics for autonomous navigation and image acquisition and processing for temporal monitoring. She is a scientific diver and participated to several underwater measurement campaigns (Costa Concordia shipwreck, coral monitoring in French Polynesia). She serves as chair of the ISPRS Working Group II/7 in Underwater Data Acquisition and Processing and is the PI of the ISPRS SI 2023 NAUTILUS - uNder And throUgh waTer datasets for geospatIaL stUdieS and of the Italian project MANATEE - Monitoring and mApping of mariNe hAbitatwith inTegrated gEomatics technologiEs.

Fabio Menna, is a researcher at the 3D Optical Metrology (3DOM – http://3dom.fbk.eu) unit of FBK (Fondazione Bruno Kessler) Trento, Italy. His main interests are in photogrammetry, range sensors, geodetic surveying, 3D modelling. He is a scientific diver focusing on underwater photogrammetry techniques, bridging the fields of photogrammetry, computer vision and robotics. He participated to different underwater photogrammetry projects (Costa Concordia photogrammetric survey, research and development for the COMEX ORUS3D subsea photogrammetry systems, coral reef monitoring in French Polynesia). From 2012 to 2016 he served as secretary of ISPRS Commission V and from 2016 to 2022 he was Chair of the ISPRS Working Group on Underwater Data Acquisition and Processing. He has organized several scientific events related to underwater photogrammetry and tutored more than 15 international summer schools and tutorials. He has been appointed co-chair of the 2022-2026 ISPRS Working Group II/7 on Underwater Data Acquisition and Processing. He is PI of the ISPRS ECBI POSER: an oPen sOurce Simulation platform for tEaching and tRaining underwater photogrammetry and Co-Pi of the ISPRS SI NAUTILUS (uNder And throUgh waTer datasets for geospatIaL stUdies).

Antonio Angrisano, is Associate Professor at the Department of Engineering of the University of Messina and member of the PArthenope Navigation Group (PANG) Laboratory. In 2011 he obtained his PhD in Geodetic and Topographic Sciences at Parthenope University, working on GNSS and Inertial Navigation; during his doctoral studies he jointed PLAN Group (Position Location and Navigation) at University of Calgary. Since 2012 to 2014 he was a Post-Doc at Parthenope University, working on GNSS and Augmentation Systems, Inertial and Integrated Navigation, RAIM and Integrity. Since 2014 to 2015 he was a Navigation System Engineer at Magneti Marelli (FCA group), working on urban positioning and mobility. Since 2015 to 2020 he worked as junior researcher at the University of Benevento “Giustino Fortunato”. Since 2021 to 2023 he was Assistant Professor at University of Messina. He is the author of more than 60 publications on journals and international conferences.

Alessandro Capra, born on 05/05/61 at Bologna (Italy). Master Agree on Mining Engineering on 1987. Full Professor of Geomatics at DIEF Dept.-UNIMNORE since 2002. Author of more than 250 publications. More recent researches in geomatics for deformation monitoring and underwater surveying and change detection. Coordinator of Italian Geodetic Observatory in Antarcti-ca- PNRA since 1998. Chief Officer of SCAR (Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research) Geosciences Group 2004-12. Director of DIASS Dept.,Polytechnic of Bari 2003-05. Editor-in-chief of Applied Geomatics journal (Springer Ed) since 2008. President of SIFET (Italian Society of Photogrammetry and Surveying) 2010-14. Director of DIEF Dept. 2012-18. President of Association China Project since 2019. Rector's Delegate for Internationalization.

Rossi Paolo, is a postdoc researcher and contract professor of Precision Surveying and Deformation Monitoring class at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Italy. He lives near Modena and had a Ph.D. in Ingegneria Industriale e del Territorio at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia. Paolo works on the application of methodologies for the 3D reconstruction and the monitoring of fine-scale geometric deformations. He focused on laser scanning and photogrammetric systems for monitoring applications in different fields: structural, industrial, land, coastal, and underwater. He is currently working on the health state monitoring of reef environments by integrating different sensors. The ultimate purpose of his research activities is to enable precise and repeatable punctual deformation monitoring using high-resolution 3D models.