A simple but powerful method is presented for calibrating geophones, seismometers, and other inertial vibration sensors, including passive accelerometers. The method requires no cumbersome or expensive fixtures such as shaker platforms and can be performed using a standard instrument commonly available in the field. An absolute calibration is obtained using the reciprocity property of the device, based on the standard mathematical model for such inertial sensors. It requires only simple electrical measurement of the impedance of the sensor as a function of frequency to determine the parameters of the model and hence the sensitivity function. The method is particularly convenient if one of these parameters, namely the suspended mass is known. In this case, no additional mechanical apparatus is required and only a single set of impedance measurements yields the desired calibration function. Moreover, this measurement can be made with the device in situ. However, the novel and most powerful aspect of the method is its ability to accurately determine the effective suspended mass. For this, the impedance measurement is made with the device hanging from a simple spring or flexible cord (depending on the orientation of its sensitive axis). To complete the calibration, the device is weighed to determine its total mass. All the required calibration parameters, including the suspended mass, are then determined from a least-squares fit to the impedance as a function of frequency. A demonstration using both a 4.5 Hz geophone and a 1 Hz seismometer shows that the method can yield accurate absolute calibrations with an error of 0.1% or better, assuming no a priori knowledge of any parameters. (C) 2005 American Institute Physics.