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Continuous gravity recording with Scintrex CG-3M meters: a promising tool for monitoring active zones

Abstract : We acquired continuous series of microgravity measurements using several Scintrex CG-3M gravity meters for several weeks in 1997. The meters with 1 mGal resolution were installed side by side in a stable reference station at the ORSTOM research centre to perform identical data acquisition. We present and compare the instrumental responses obtained for the various gravity meters (measurement series of gravity field, standard deviation, internal temperature, tilts) and analyse their correlation with simultaneous recordings of meteorological parameters. The data have been processed in order to (1) establish the mid-to long-term relative stability and the accuracy of the instruments, (2) estimate the contribution of instrumental effects to gravity data measurements and (3) quantify the amplitude of the time variations of the gravity field that might be detected with such instruments. This study emphasizes the sensitivity of some instrumental responses of the Scintrex CG-3M gravity meters (such as internal temperature or tilt) to local atmospheric-pressure variations. This sensitivity can lead to non-negligible perturbations of the gravity measurements through automatic corrections applied in real-time mode by the integrated software. We show that most of these instrumental artefacts can be easily removed in data post-processing by using simultaneous atmospheric-pressure data. After removal of an accurate Earth tide model, the instrumental drift and the instrumental effects, the temporal series are compared by computing differential signals. These residual signals obtained over a period of several weeks exhibit the following characteristics: (1) the gravity residuals have a maximum amplitude ranging from 5 to 10 mGal and from 10 to 15 μGal for filtered and unfiltered data, respectively; and (2) the standard error, tilts and internal temperature measurements of the various gravity meters are very consistent; their respective residual amplitudes are ±2 mGal, ±3 arcsec and ±0.05 mK. In order to calibrate the gravity meters precisely in the measurement range used in this study, we have measured a calibration line established in the framework of the fourth intercomparison of absolute and relative gravity meters. This calibration was achieved with an accuracy of 5 μGal. This result is consistent with other field tests already performed with such gravity meters. In addition, we also checked the accuracy of the tilt sensors by increasing the electronic read-out by a factor of 10. The tilt response of the whole gravity meter to a small induced inclinometric variation indicates that the precision of the tilt measurements is about a few tenths of an arc second. This study reveals that temporal variations of the gravity field could potentially be detected in the field with an accuracy of about 5–15 mGal by permanent networks of Scintrex CG-3M gravity meters set up a few kilometres apart. This result is of particular interest in field surveys of temporal gravity changes related to some environmental or geodynamical processes, where the expected gravity variations are greater than a few tens of mGal. In particular, in volcanological applications, the continuous monitoring of active volcanoes with such permanent networks of gravity meters co-located with subcentimetre-accuracy GPS receivers should be very helpful to understand internal magmatic processes better and to detect possible gravity and inclinometric signals occurring during pre-eruptive phases. In this field, continuous microgravity recordings associated with classical reiteration networks will probably improve hazard mitigation in the near future
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Sylvain Bonvalot, Michel Diament, Germinal Gabalda. Continuous gravity recording with Scintrex CG-3M meters: a promising tool for monitoring active zones. Geophysical Journal International, Oxford University Press (OUP), 1998, 135 (2), pp.470-494. ⟨10.1046/j.1365-246X.1998.00653.x⟩. ⟨insu-01354070⟩

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