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A new approach to computing accurate gravity time variations for a realistic earth model with lateral heterogeneities

Abstract : We have developed a new elasto-gravitational earth model able to take into account lateral variations, deviatoric pre-stresses and topographies. As a first application, we assume an el-lipsoidal earth with hydrostatic pre-stresses, and validate and discuss our numerical model by comparison with previous studies on the M 2 body tide. We then study the response of the ellipsoidal earth to zonal atmospheric loads, and find that global lateral variations within the Earth, such as ellipticity, have a weak impact (about 1 per cent) on the elasto-gravitational deformations induced by atmospheric loading. At low frequencies, the Earth is deformed mainly by luni-solar tides and by surface loads, including ocean, atmosphere, ice volumes and post-glacial rebound. In this work, we focus our attention on the Earth's body tides and atmospheric loadings. The most accepted Earth body-tide models presently deal with an ellipsoidal, rotating earth, containing a liquid core and an anelastic mantle with hydrostatic pre-stresses (Wahr 1981; Wahr & Bergen 1986). The Earth, however, is not an exact ellipsoid, but presents lateral variations and deviatoric pre-stresses: there are long-wavelength density anomalies within the mantle, as shown by geoid anomalies and tomography studies (e.g. Romanowicz & Gung 2002). Wang (1994) and Dehant et al. (1999) studied the influence of lateral heterogeneities on Earth tides and showed that this effect is small but not necessarily negligible. They did not, however, take into account possible deviatoric pre-stresses: these effects on the Earth's body tides are totally unknown. In addition to tidal forces, mass changes in the atmosphere also cause deformation and mass redistribution inside the planet, involving both local and global surface motions and variations in the gravity field, which may be observed in geodetic experiments. For several decades, satellite geodesy has provided information on the temporal variation of the Earth's geopotential, and especially on the low-degree zonal harmonics (J 2 , J 3. . .) (Gegout & Cazenave 1993), which are essentially controlled by surface loads. These hydrological , atmospheric or oceanic effects on the Earth's gravity field are usually modelled assuming a spherical earth with hydro-static pre-stress (e.g. Farrell 1972; Wahr et al. 1998). With the advent of the new generation of gravity measurements, one of the challenges of the coming decade will be to provide more realistic earth models that show the variation of gravity with time. In particular, global studies based on gravity data from satellites such as GRACE, GOCE, and future GRACE/GOCE follow-on ones require accurate body-tide deformation models. More realistic gravity variation models are also needed for local and ground measurements, particularly for the very accurate superconducting gravimeters and the associated gravimetric observatory network such as the Global Geodynamic Project (Crossley et al. 1999). The formalism developed to compute this elasto-gravitational model is usually based on spherical harmonic analysis. The addition of lateral variations leads to couplings between spherical harmonics , i.e. to a more complex formalism that requires a large numerical effort (e.g. Wang 1994; Plag et al. 1996). We develop here a new approach for a non-radially symmetrical earth model using a finite-element method known as the spectral element method. The efficiency of this method is less dependent on the shape of the lateral heterogeneities than the spherical harmonic method. Our method is therefore well adapted to studying the impact of global and local lateral variations on the Earth deformation. We solve the elasto-gravitational equations taking into consideration the lateral variations within the Earth by using a first-order perturbation theory (Smith 1974; Dahlen & Tromp 1998). This new model allows us to take into account lateral variations of density and rheological parameters, deviatoric pre-stresses and interface topography. In order to validate our calculations, we tackle a well-known problem: the impact of the hydrostatic ellipticity on the Earth body tides. An analytical solution for this problem can be derived for a simple model in which the earth is assumed to be homogeneous and incompressible. The gravitational potential and the vertical displacement on the surface of the deformed ellipsoid were first derived by Love (1911) and then corrected by Wang (1994). We have recently extended these analytical results to the tangential surface displacement (Greff-Lefftz et al. 2005). We first validate our model with our analytical solutions, and then compare our results with
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L Métivier, M Greff-Lefftz, M Diament. A new approach to computing accurate gravity time variations for a realistic earth model with lateral heterogeneities. Geophysical Journal International, Oxford University Press (OUP), 2005, 162, pp.570-574. ⟨10.1111/j.1365-246X.2005.02692.x⟩. ⟨insu-01354842⟩

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