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Micro Gravity Surveying, New Developments, New Capabilities

Micro Gravity Surveying, New Developments, New Capabilities

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Technique for investigation of geologic structures with micro gravity surveying.
Technique for investigation of geologic structures with micro gravity surveying.

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Published by: V on Dec 13, 2009
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04/30/2013

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MicrogravitySunreyingNIewDevelopments,
NewCapabilities
Larry Barrows,CPG-9I22andWendy Weiland-Crow
Introduction
Gravity surveyingisawellestablishedgeophysicaltechnique fortheinvesUgationofgeologicstructures. Thebasicapproachfirstmeasuresdifferences in the force ofgravitybetweenstationsdistributed over the surveyedarea. After thesevalueshavebeen corrected for all knowneffects, the remainingdifferences are duetolateralvari-aUonsin subsurface rock density. Interpretationconsistsofconstructing densitymodels whichare consistentwiththegeologiccontrolandcouldproducethe observedgravitydifferences.Gravity surveys have been used tosearch forsaltdomes,define theconfiguraUon of sedi-mentarybasins, and explorethe deep structureofmountains.continents, and oceans.Parasins(I986),Telfordandothers(1976),Nettleton(1976),RobinsonandCoruh(1988),and othergeophysicstexts describethegravitysurveytechnique.Hinze(199O)providesadetailed reviewof the engineering and environmentalapplicationsofgravitysurveying.Theaccuracyof asurveydependson the accuracy ofthegravimeterand the accuracy of tJ-ecorrecUonswhichare applied to the obseruedvalues.Theaccuracy of thesecorrections depends onthemeasuredstationelevationsandthefocused effort thatgoesintocalculation oftheterrain corrections. The skill and dedicationofthegra-vimeteroperator is anotherconcerrr. Becauseof theselimitations,thefinalreducedor Bouguergravityvalueshaveaninherentinaccuracywhichmust beevaluatedduring the interpretation. Surveyinaccuracyhas tradi-tionalll' limited the size and types ofgeologictargetsthatcan be reliablymappedwiththegravi$technique.Therelativelyhighcostofthesun'eysis anotherfactorthatcan limit the applications.Recent developmentshave significantly reducedthecost,enhanced the'hccuracy.and simplifiedtheconductofgravilysurveys.iheseincludeelectrostaticallycontrol-ledgravimeters,theglobalposiUoningsatellitesystem(GPS),anddigitalelevationmodelsof thetopography(DEMs).AJongu'ith the newdevelopmentscomenew capa-Figure . TheSuper-G electrostoticollycontrolledgrovimeter.Thesmoll boxwhich isottochedtotheside oftheG-meter cosecontoinstheelectronicsthotnullthebeom.Thecomputer findsond disploystheide-corrected, level-corrected,continuousgrov-ity reoding.bilitjeswhichensure broader use ofgravitysurvqfin!forfuture engineering,groundwater,and environmentalin-vestigations.This article describesthese developmentsand some of the surveytargetswhichare nowwithin thepracUcalrange ofgravitysuwq;ing. Adetailed descriptionof the data reducUonprocessand suggestions forfieldproceduresare alsoincluded.Thepurposeof the artjcleistoprovideacomprehensivereview of thebasicinforma-tion necessan/tosuccessfullyconduct highprecisiongravitysurveys. The intent istohelpothers understandandusethispowerfulsurvey tecturique.
Background
The Earth'sGravttyFleld
Sealevelgravityvariesbetween 983 Galsatt-Le Earth'spolesto 978 Galsatthe equatorwhereoneGal(forGalileo)is an acceleraUonof one centjmeterpersecond squared.The targets ofinterestinengineering andenvironmentalsun'eyscanbe assmallas O.OOOOlOGals,sowenormallyworkwitheither milliGalsormicroGals.One microGalTheProfessional Geologist.NOVEMBER1996
 
equals 0.001milliGalorabout onepart perbillionoftheforceofgravity.MtcroGalsareused inthis report.Gravity datareducflonlncludesthecalculatlonofthetheoreticalgravityduetoall known orpredictableeffects.Thls value iscalculatedforeach stationin agravitysunreyand then subtractedfromtl:eobservedvalue. Wittrintheaccuracy of thedata, lateralvariaHonsln the remainingresidualgravttycanonlybe duetolateral variaUonsinthe subsurfacemassdistribution.This residualtscalledthe Bouguergravity.Predlctableeffects include: stationlatitude,staUonelevatlon,the tncreased amountof mate-rialbeneathhigherelevatlonstadons,and localtopogra-phv.Average sealevelgravityvariesina systematlcfashionwith latitudebecauseofthe Earth's rotationandspheroi-dal shape.FortheNorthAmericancontlnent,the equaUonthat hasbeenacceptedfor latitude-dependentsea levelgravityis IGSNTIas modifiedfor the 1967geodeUcrefer-encesystem. Thlsequation ls:go=978,031,846(t+ 0.005278895in20 0.000023c62in4oywhere:goissea levelgravityInmicroGals,and0islautudein degrees.At a laUtudeof 45o,the latitude dependenceequals0.248 mlcroGalsperfootso a four foot locaUonerror in astatlonnorthingcauses aone microGal errorln thegravityvalue.Gravity varles withelevatlonbecauseof thevarytngdistancetothe Earth'scenter ofgravity.ThlselevaUoneffect iscalledthe free-aircorrectlonand equalsa de-creaseof94.06mlcroGalperfootof elevation. Wealsoneed toaccountforthe increasedmass of materialthatexists beneathstationsthat are athigher elevations.Thisiscalledthe Bouguerslab correctlon andequalselnlncreaseof 12.78'pmicroGalsperfootof elevaflonwherepis the Bouguerslab density. AnoptimumBouguerslab densitycanoften befoundbyflrst reducingthegravitysurveydata ustngavarietyof different densi-ties,forexample1.8, 2.Oand, 2.2gm/cc.The densityvaluefor whichtheprocessedgravltyvaluesshow theleastcorrelatJontothose topographic features thatareunrelatedto underlyingdensity stnrctures ls selected.Asuitabletopographicfeaturemightbeageologtcally-young,incised streamchannel. ThecorrectBouguerslabdensttyreducesthe effect ofthe topographJcfeatureswithinthe surveyeda,rea.Ifa comparlson ofthe sitesurveymap toa regionalgravttymap is destred,then anear surfacereferencedatum elevatlonneedstobede-Iined.Findthe stngle Bouguer slabcorrectlon for thematerialbetweenthe datum andsea level using2.67$mlcc.Thenadd thisquantityto the Bouguer slab cor-recUonsforthe material between thestatlonandtl:edatumusingthe local denstty . A density of 2.67gm/cclsgenerallyacceptedas beingrepresentatlve ofthe Earth'sconUnentalcnrstand isusuallyusedastheBouguerslabdensity in theconstructlon of reglonalgravitymaps.For a Bouguer slabdensityof2.Ogm/cc,thecombina-tion of the free-alrcorrectionand theBouguerslabcor-rectlonyieldsan elevatlonsensltivityof68.5microGal perfootor I microGalperO.O5foot.ThiselevationsensiUvityplacesUghtlimitson the accuracytowhlchstatlonelevatlons must bedetermined.The last componentof thepredictablegravityeffectistheterraln correctlon. Terralncotrecdons account for theupward attracilonoftopographicfeatures whicharehtgherthanasurvey staUon(hills)and thelackof down-wardattracdon fromopenspacewhichlslowerthan thestation{valleys).Themagnitude of theterraincorrecUonvariesfromtnconsequentialinareas of flat terrain to morethana thousand microGals tn mountainousareas. Boththehillsand thevalleysdecrease the force ofgravitybelowthat whlch wouldexist in flattopography so this corec-tionalways has aposiflvesign.Techniques of calculatingterain corrections €rredescribed lna later section of thisreport..Thenettheoreticalgravityat aexpressed as:$theory=$o0afltude)+free-air(elevatlon)staUoncan thenbe+Bouguerslab(elevaUon,)+terraln(topography,p)GrsvlnetersThe newcapabilitiesofthegravitysurveytechnique aredlrectlydependent onthedwelopmentof electrostaUcallycontrolledgravimeters.One such instrrment, shown inFigure l, is theSuper-G developed by EDCON, Inc.ofDenver,Colorado.Thisgravimeterls at leastanorderofmagritude moreaccurate than conventionaldesigns and,equallylmportant,it lsmuch slmplertooperate. Withconventlonalgravimetersthe hnstmment operator has tohave or developapardcular"toLrch"or balance betweenthewaymeteradJusbnents are madeand the tlme spentmaklngthe readtng.Noteveryone hasthetemperamentorabilttytodevelop this sldll.WiththeSuper-Ggravime-ter, lt lspossibletouseacook book approachtothereadtngs and any reasonably consciendous.dedicatedlndividual cern mastertheprocedures.The new designalsoyieldsthes€une resultswithdifferent operators-whichisnotalwaysa characteristlcof conventtonalgra-vlmeters.The Super-Ggravimeterlsactually amodiffcaHonofthe l.aCoste & Romberg Geodeflc(Model-G)meter.Theworklngmechanism of the l.aCoste&RombergG'meterisbasedonthezero-length-springpendulumffrst devel-oped as a longperiodselsmometerLrthe l93o's(t^a-Coste, 1934).Figure2 shows a slmplifled sketchofthebasic mechanismand its mechantcal equatlons.Tooper-atethls tlpe ofgravimeter,the lnstnrmentlsfirstplacedon a stable surface,leveled,the beam is unlocked, andthemlcrometerscrew is adJusteduntil the massis tn itsnull orspeclfledbalanceposition.Theposidonofthemicrometer screwis recordedand latertransformedwith
NOVEMBER1996rThe Professional Geologlst7
 
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Thenif'Z'is vcnvcnrmrll. rrmallchangc ingrerit1'dg'*ill producrr rehtivehlargrchenge in thcrpringlength'dS'Thtmicromctcrscrch isuscd to bring lhcbcem rnd mrsslor rpccilied'null'position.
Figure, Bosicmechonicsofozero-lengfh-springrovimeter.Bymoking theoffsetbetweentheplotorigin ondtheextropolotedforceversusengrthunctionQ)very verysmoll,o smollchongeingrovitydg)producesorelotivelyorgechongeinspringengthappropriateconversion factors intoastationreadinginmicroGals. Theprinciplebehind the meter is relativelysimple. Howeveractualmeterperformancedepends onthingslike: exactlyuniform springandscrew charac-teristics, barometricpressurecompensation, tempera-turecontrol, dampingofthebeamoscillaUons,meterleveling. andhingeorpivotconstruction.Gravimeters areamongthemost sophisticatedgeophysicalsurvey instm-mentsin existencebut despitethe care thatgoesnto theirconstrllction. the accuracy of traditionalmetersis limitedtoabout 20 microGals.TheSuper-G design addsa capacitorplateto theendof the mechanica-lbeam andcorrespondingparallelplatesto thesupportingframe.withthis design,thebeamis firstadjusted to its approximatenullposiUonusing themi-crometer screwwhichis tJlenockedinplace.For a smallsite, the micrometer screwadJustment ismadeonceduringthefirst base stationreadingand thenleft in itslockedpositionfor the remainder of thesurvey.Forlargersites or siteswithlargeelevationvariations itmaybenecessary to use several differentlocked screwposiuons.At onescrewposiilonthe operatingrange oftheSuper-Ggravimeteris 4OO0o5OOOmicroGals.Once the screwislocked inplace.thenullposttionofthe beamis automaUcallyobtained usingthe force duetoa.,smallelectrostaticpositioningvoltage(EPV)whichisimposedon the capacltorplatesbythegravimeterelec-tronics.WhilethegravimeterisoperaUng,the beampositionisautomatlcallymonitored and maintainedinitsnuUpositionbyelectronicallycontrolled adjustrnentstotheEPV. Both the micrometerscrewposlilonandtheEPVare converted intoagravityreadingby thecontrollingcomputerarld the instantaneousgravityreadingis con-tinuouslydispiayed onthecomputer screen.Thisreadingisnotconstantbecauseofbackgroundseismic vibratlons,internalinstrumentchanges like springrelaxaUonortemperature variaUons,andpossiblesiteinstabilitiessoits meanvalueisdeterminedover auser-selected Ume-averaged interval,typically15or3O seconds. Normallytlrreeor four of these time-averaged readingsareused tofinda final readingfor the stailon. Anotherconcernisthedifficulty ofmaintainingan exactinstrument level,espe-ciallyon softground.The levelofbothtlleconvenHonalLaCoste&RombergG-meter and theSuper-G meter ismeasured withinternal electronic ievels andadjusted bytheoperator usinglevelingscrews.Withthe conventionaldesignthelevelingis tJ:en complete:withthe newdesignany off-level changes are conUnually sensedand incorpo-ratedintothegravityreading by thecomputer. Thiscomputer driven fine-tuning is necessa-ry ifmicroGalaccuracyistobe obtained.The Super-G meterhas anaccuracy ofone or twomicroGals.Solar andlunarUdes affect tJ:eforce ofgravityattl:eEarth'ssurface by asmuchas150 microGals witharateof change as largeasonemicrocalperminute.WiththeSuper-Ggravimeter,these Udes are calculated internallyusingthecomputer algorithmpublishedby Longman(1959)andthe tidecorrectionis automatically applied tothegravityreadings. Tidecalculationsrequire thecorrectdate, time towithin one minute, and latitude and longi-tude to within onetentflof adegree. Time isnormallymaintained in thegravimetercomputer asGreenwichMeanTime(GMT)butyoucan use local Umeifyouknowyourinternationaltimezone andlocalversusdaylightsavingsUme.SurveyProceduresTherawdata from agravitysurvey arethedifferencesbetweenthereadings at the fieldstationsandthereadingat a base station.Thesedifferencesareadded totheabsolutegravityat the base stailontoobtainthe knownabsolutegravityvaluesat the field stations.Ifthe sun'eyobjectiveislimitedtoestablishinglateralgravityvari-ationswithinthesite, thenanyreasonablevaluecanbeassumed forabsolutegravityat the basestation. Oneapproachis toset thisvalueequal tothe theoreticalgrarrlty.Onthe final Bouguergravitycontour mapthezerocontourlinethenpassesthroughthe basestation.How-ever,ifa site survey isto be mergedwithother surveys orlf lt ispartofalarger proJect,hebasestaUonvalueshould
TheProfesslonal GeologlstoNOVEMBER1996

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