Topography-free (Bouguer) Gravity Disturbances

Topography-free (Bouguer) Gravity Disturbances

The gravity disturbance is the observed gravity minus the normal gravity (boule.Ellipsoid.normal_gravity). The signal that is left is assumed to be due to the differences between the actual Earth and the reference ellipsoid. Big components in this signal are the effects of topographic masses outside of the ellipsoid and residual effects of the oceans (we removed ellipsoid crust where there was actually ocean water). These two components are relatively well known and can be removed from the gravity disturbance. The simplest way of calculating the effects of topography and oceans is through the Bouguer plate approximation.

We’ll use harmonica.bouguer_correction to calculate a topography-free gravity disturbance for Earth using our sample gravity and topography data. One thing to note is that the ETOPO1 topography is referenced to the geoid, not the ellipsoid. Since we want to remove the masses between the surface of the Earth and ellipsoid, we need to add the geoid height to the topography before Bouguer correction.

gravity disturbance topofree


Dimensions:     (longitude: 2161, latitude: 1081)
  * longitude   (longitude) float64 -180.0 -179.8 -179.7 ... 179.7 179.8 180.0
  * latitude    (latitude) float64 -90.0 -89.83 -89.67 ... 89.67 89.83 90.0
    height      (latitude, longitude) float32 1e+04 1e+04 1e+04 ... 1e+04 1e+04
Data variables:
    gravity     (latitude, longitude) float32 9.801e+05 9.801e+05 ... 9.802e+05
    geoid       (latitude, longitude) float32 -29.5 -29.5 -29.5 ... 15.4 15.4
    topography  (latitude, longitude) float32 2.742e+03 2.742e+03 ... -4.237e+03
    Conventions:     CF-1.8
    title:           Gravity acceleration (EIGEN-6C4) at a constant geometric...
    crs:             WGS84
    source:          Generated from the EIGEN-6C4 model by the ICGEM Calculat...
    license:         Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence
    long_name:       gravity acceleration
    description:     magnitude of the gravity acceleration vector (gravitatio...
    units:           mGal
    actual_range:    [974748.6 980201.9]
    icgem_metadata:  generating_institute: gfz-potsdam\ngenerating_date: 2021...
grdimage [WARNING]: Longitude range too small; geographic boundary condition changed to natural.
<IPython.core.display.Image object>

import boule as bl
import ensaio
import pygmt
import xarray as xr

import harmonica as hm

# Load the global gravity, topography, and geoid grids
fname_gravity = ensaio.fetch_earth_gravity(version=1)
fname_geoid = ensaio.fetch_earth_geoid(version=1)
fname_topo = ensaio.fetch_earth_topography(version=1)
data = xr.merge(

# Calculate normal gravity and the disturbance
ellipsoid = bl.WGS84
gamma = ellipsoid.normal_gravity(data.latitude, data.height)
disturbance = data.gravity - gamma

# Reference the topography to the ellipsoid
topography_ell = data.topography + data.geoid

# Calculate the Bouguer planar correction and the topography-free disturbance.
# Use the default densities for the crust and ocean water.
bouguer = hm.bouguer_correction(topography_ell)
disturbance_topofree = disturbance - bouguer

# Make a plot of data using PyGMT
fig = pygmt.Figure()

pygmt.grd2cpt(grid=disturbance_topofree, cmap="vik", continuous=True)

title = "Topography-free (Bouguer) gravity disturbance of the Earth"

with pygmt.config(FONT_TITLE="14p"):

fig.coast(shorelines="0.5p,black", resolution="crude")

fig.colorbar(cmap=True, frame=["a200f50", "x+lmGal"])

Total running time of the script: ( 0 minutes 33.622 seconds)

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