Error sources and data limitations for the prediction of surface gravity: A case study using benchmarks

Mick S. Filmer, Christian Hirt, Will E. Featherstone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Citations (Scopus)


Gravity-based heights require gravity values at levelled benchmarks (BMs), which sometimes have to be predicted from surrounding observations. We use the Earth Gravitational Model 2008 (EGM2008) and the Australian National Gravity Database (ANGD) as examples of model and terrestrial observed data respectively to predict gravity at Australian National Levelling Network (ANLN) BMs. The aim is to quantify errors that may propagate into the predicted BM gravity values and then into gravimetric height corrections (HCs). Our results indicate that an approximate ±1 arc-min horizontal position error of the BMs causes maximum errors in EGM2008 BM gravity of ~22 mGal (~55 mm in the HC at ~2200 m elevation) and ~18 mGal for ANGD BM gravity because the values are not computed at the true location of the BM. We use RTM (residual terrain modelling) techniques to show that ~50% of EGM2008 BM gravity error in a moderately mountainous region can be accounted for by signal omission. Non-representative sampling of ANGD gravity in this region may cause errors of up to 50 mGals (~120 mm for the Helmert orthometric correction at ~2200 m elevation). For modelled gravity at BMs to be viable, levelling networks need horizontal BM positions accurate to a few metres, while RTM techniques can be used to reduce signal omission error. Unrepresentative gravity sampling in mountains can be remedied by denser and more representative re-surveys, and/or gravity can be forward modelled into regions of sparser gravity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-66
Number of pages20
JournalStudia Geophysica et Geodaetica
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


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