Surveys in Geophysics

, Volume 39, Issue 2, pp 227–244 | Cite as

Gravity Spectra from the Density Distribution of Earth’s Uppermost 435 km

  • Josef SeberaEmail author
  • Roger Haagmans
  • Rune Floberghagen
  • Jörg Ebbing


The Earth masses reside in a near-hydrostatic equilibrium, while the deviations are, for example, manifested in the geoid, which is nowadays well determined by satellite gravimetry. Recent progress in estimating the density distribution of the Earth allows us to examine individual Earth layers and to directly see how the sum approaches the observed anomalous gravitational field. This study evaluates contributions from the crust and the upper mantle taken from the LITHO1.0 model and quantifies the gravitational spectra of the density structure to the depth of 435 km. This is done without isostatic adjustments to see what can be revealed with models like LITHO1.0 alone. At the resolution of 290 km (spherical harmonic degree 70), the crustal contribution starts to dominate over the upper mantle and at about 150 km (degree 130) the upper mantle contribution is nearly negligible. At the spatial resolution \(<150\,\hbox {km},\) the spectra behavior is driven by the crust, the mantle lid and the asthenosphere. The LITHO1.0 model was furthermore referenced by adding deeper Earth layers from ak135, and the gravity signal of the merged model was then compared with the observed satellite-only model GOCO05s. The largest differences are found over the tectonothermal cold and old (such as cratonic), and over warm and young areas (such as oceanic ridges). The misfit encountered comes from the mantle lid where a velocity–density relation helped to reduce the RMS error by 40%. Global residuals are also provided in terms of the gravitational gradients as they provide better spatial localization than gravity, and there is strong observational support from ESA’s satellite gradiometry mission GOCE down to the spatial resolution of 80–90 km.


Density distribution model Satellite Gravimetry Lithosphere Upper mantle GOCE Gravitational gradients 



The study is connected to the ESA STSE project “3D Earth - A Dynamic Living Planet” ( We thank the Editor in Chief Michael J. Rycroft and anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Josef Sebera
    • 1
    Email author
  • Roger Haagmans
    • 2
  • Rune Floberghagen
    • 1
  • Jörg Ebbing
    • 3
  1. 1.ESA/ESRINFrascati (Roma)Italy
  2. 2.ESA/ESTECNoordwijkThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu KielKielGermany

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