, Volume 64, Issue 1, pp 88-108
Date: 21 Jan 2014

An evaluation of some systematic error sources affecting terrestrial gravity anomalies

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Abstract

Terrestrial free-air gravity anomalies form a most essential data source in the framework of gravity field determination. Gravity anomalies depend on the datums of the gravity, vertical, and horizontal networks as well as on the definition of a normal gravity field; thus gravity anomaly data are affected in a systematic way by inconsistencies of the local datums with respect to a global datum, by the use of a simplified free-air reduction procedure and of different kinds of height system. These systematic errors in free-air gravity anomaly data cause systematic effects in gravity field related quantities like e.g. absolute and relative geoidal heights or height anomalies calculated from gravity anomaly data.

In detail it is shown that the effects of horizontal datum inconsistencies have been underestimated in the past. The corresponding systematic errors in gravity anomalies are maximum in mid-latitudes and can be as large as the errors induced by gravity and vertical datum and height system inconsistencies. As an example the situation in Australia is evaluated in more detail: The deviations between the national Australian horizontal datum and a global datum produce a systematic error in the free-air gravity anomalies of about −0.10 mgal which value is nearly constant over the continent