Encyclopedia of Solid Earth Geophysics

2011 Edition
| Editors: Harsh K. Gupta

Gravity Field of the Earth

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-90-481-8702-7_91

Definition and scope

The gravitational field of the Earth is generally understood as the field generated by the masses of the terrestrial body. However, actual measurements made on the surface include tidal components due to the sun and moon (and theoretically other planets) and the atmosphere, as well as the centrifugal acceleration due to Earth’s rotation. Therefore, geodesists distinguish between terrestrial gravitation (mass attraction of the Earth) and gravity (gravitation plus centrifugal acceleration), where tidal and atmospheric effects are treated as corrections. This chapter develops the basic physical concepts of terrestrial gravitation assumed to be generated solely by the subsurface mass density distribution. After an introduction to the Newtonian gravitational potential and its properties, the subsequent sections of the chapter discuss the spatial variation of the field on and above the Earth's surface, the geophysical interpretation of the low-degree harmonics of the...

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Geodetic ScienceSchool of Earth Sciences, Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA