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Accounting for time- and space-varying changes in the gravity field to improve the network adjustment of relative-gravity data

November 9, 2015

The relative gravimeter is the primary terrestrial instrument for measuring spatially and temporally varying gravitational fields. The background noise of the instrument—that is, non-linear drift and random tares—typically requires some form of least-squares network adjustment to integrate data collected during a campaign that may take several days to weeks. Here, we present an approach to remove the change in the observed relative-gravity differences caused by hydrologic or other transient processes during a single campaign, so that the adjusted gravity values can be referenced to a single epoch. The conceptual approach is an example of coupled hydrogeophysical inversion, by which a hydrologic model is used to inform and constrain the geophysical forward model. The hydrologic model simulates the spatial variation of the rate of change of gravity as either a linear function of distance from an infiltration source, or using a 3-D numerical groundwater model. The linear function can be included in and solved for as part of the network adjustment. Alternatively, the groundwater model is used to predict the change of gravity at each station through time, from which the accumulated gravity change is calculated and removed from the data prior to the network adjustment. Data from a field experiment conducted at an artificial-recharge facility are used to verify our approach. Maximum gravity change due to hydrology (observed using a superconducting gravimeter) during the relative-gravity field campaigns was up to 2.6 μGal d−1, each campaign was between 4 and 6 d and one month elapsed between campaigns. The maximum absolute difference in the estimated gravity change between two campaigns, two months apart, using the standard network adjustment method and the new approach, was 5.5 μGal. The maximum gravity change between the same two campaigns was 148 μGal, and spatial variation in gravity change revealed zones of preferential infiltration and areas of relatively high groundwater storage. The accommodation for spatially varying gravity change would be most important for long-duration campaigns, campaigns with very rapid changes in gravity and (or) campaigns where especially precise observed relative-gravity differences are used in the network adjustment.

Publication Year 2015
Title Accounting for time- and space-varying changes in the gravity field to improve the network adjustment of relative-gravity data
DOI 10.1093/gji/ggv493
Authors Jeffrey R. Kennedy, Ty P.A. Ferre
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Geophysical Journal International
Index ID 70160098
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Arizona Water Science Center