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The prism method for terrain corrections using digital computers


In the prism method of making terrain corrections, the topography is approximated by a model consisting of right rectangular prisms. The vertical component of the gravitational attraction of each prism is calculated and the sum of these components gives the terrain correction.

The prism method as programmed has no computational limitations. It can be used on all sizes of computers; it can be applied to a large area with any fine grid interval; it can be processed in a single run and yet provides complete flexibility for both research and routine computations. This has been achieved by breaking up larger areas into regions which fit into the computer memory. The contributions of these regions are automatically summed up for each station. While processing each region, various controls may be used at each station to exclude the contribution of a distant part of the area, to use approximate expressions farther from the station, to print out details around the station. There is also provision to refine the model by using smaller prisms around each computation point. Thus full use of elevation control can be made to calculate the terrain correction, the accuracy of which depends only on the quality of the input data.

The prism method has been used to calculate terrain corrections for 130 stations in the New Quebec crater area. For five of these stations terrain corrections were also calculated by usingHammer's template. The two independent sets of values differ by less than four per cent.

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Nagy, D. The prism method for terrain corrections using digital computers. PAGEOPH 63, 31–39 (1966).

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  • Vertical Component
  • Digital Computer
  • Fine Grid
  • Computation Point
  • Approximate Expression