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# Physical Geodesy

Definition
Physical geodesy is the study of the gravitational field of the earth and its geodetic
applications.
Under Physical Geodesy following subjects are studied.

Potential theory.
The gravity field of the Earth.
Gravimetric methods.
Heights above sea level.
Astro-geodetic methods.

Reference
Physical Geodesy by Weikko A. Heiskanen and Helmut Moritz
Fundamentals of Potential Theory
Newtons Universal Law of Gravitation.

1 2
2

= 66.7 109 3 1 2
= 6.67 1011 3 1 2
Gravitational Acceleration (Gravity)
Gravity is the gravitational force acting on a unit mass. In other word it is the
acceleration of a mass under the influence of a gravitational force. The units are
/ 2
Average value 9.8 2
980 2 (gals). In geodesy unit mgal is often used. 1 mgal = 103 gals

Gravity Potential
Potential is work done to bring a unit mass from infinity to the required point.
Potential is scalar therefore it can be added algebraically.
Gravity (Gravitational Acceleration) can be derived from the potential
mathematically.

Acceleration

= cos

( )
2

= cos

( )
3

= cos

( )
3

( )
3

= ( )2 + ( )2 + ( )2

Potential

= = 2 = [ ]

( )
= 2

( )
3

// y

( )
=

( )
=

3
=

Gravitational force

=

+
+

## The force is the gradient vector of the scalar function V

If we have several point masses m1 m2 ..mn the potential of the system is

1
2

+
+ +
1
2

## Properties of Gravitational Potential

1. Potential is a continuous function
2. Vanishes at infinity lim = 0

## 3. At great distances body acts like point mass

4. =
5. V(xyz) = a Equipotential surface

Poissions Equation
= 4

2
2
2
=
+
+
2
2
2

## Potential V satisfies Poissions Equation

2
2
2

+
+
= 4
2
2
2

Laplace Equation
Outside the attracting body, is 0

V = 0
The solutions of Laplace equation are called harmonic functions
The gravity potential is a harmonic function outside the attracting masses. But inside
the masses it satisfies poissions equation.

## Consider element mass dm at (, , ) inside the solid body

Potential at P due to dm is ,

= .

If the density is (, , )

= .

.
.
=

Total potential

( )
(

)2

+ (

)2

+ (

)2

( )
= .

= ( )

1
( )

( )
.
3

= . . .
2 . .
=

2 .
=

= 2

= 2
0

2 = 2 + 2 2 cos
2 = 2

= 22

## Now by considering following cases

Case I
When A lies outside the sphere

1 =
2 = +
2

= 2

22
[ + ( )]
=
.
42
=

But 4 2 =

Case II
When A lies inside the sphere

2 2
[ + ( )]
=

2 2 2
=

= 4
=

## The potential inside the sphere is constant

Let us consider the case I above
=

= 2

2
2
=
2
3
But

= ( 2 + 2 + 2 )

=
.
= 3

3 3 2
2
]
= [
2
6

3 2
1
= [ 5 3 ]

// y
2
3 2
1
=

[
]
2
5
3
2
3 2
1
=

[
]
2
5
3
2 2
2
3( 2 + 2 + 2 ) 3
+ 2 +
= [
3]
2

2
5

3 2 3
= [ 5 3 ] = 0

2 2
2

+ 2 +
=0
2

2
Potential of a spherical shell satisfies Laplace Equation
Case II

=0

2
=0
2

2
2
2

+
+
=0
2
2
2

## There are three cases to be considered

i.) r > a
ii.) b < r <a
iii.) r < b
Case I
The potential at A due to thin spherical shell
4 2
=

4 2
= =

4 3 3
=
[
]
3

## Even sphere can be considered as point mass and Laplace equation is

satisfied

Case II (b<r<a)
The potential to be calculated in two components [ie. shell inside and
shell outside.]
4 12
=
1 + 4 2 2

4 12
=
1 + 4 2 2

4 3 3
4
[2 2 ]
=
[
] +
3

2
2 3 2
= 4 [ ]
2 3 6
Case III (r<b)
= 4

= 4 =

4
[2 2 ]
2

= 2 [2 2 ]
The potential inside the sphere is constant .Therefore satisfies Laplace
Equation
Will consider case II
2 3 2
= 4 [ ]
2 3 6
= ( 2 + 2 + 2 )

= 4 [ 2 ]

3
3

3

= 4 [ 2 ] .

3
3

3
= 4 [ 3 ]

3
3
3
2
2
3 3
1
=
4

[
[
]
]
2
3
6
3

2
3 1 3 2
1
=
4

[
[
]
]
2
3 3
5
3
// y
2
3 1 3 2
1
=
4

[
[
]
]
2
3 3
5
3
2
3 1 3 2
1
=
4

[
[
]
]
2
3 3
5
3
2 2 2
3 3 3( 2 + 2 + 2 )
+
+
= 4 [ [ 3
] 1]
2 2 2
3
5
3 3
3
= 4 [ [ 3 3 ] 1]
3

2 2 2
+
+
= 4
2 2 2
Potential due to a Ring
Assume the thickness is and the height is
Potential at A due to small segment
=

=
0

2
(2 + 2 )

2 =

## Potential due to Disk

Potential at A due to ring
=

2
(2 + 2 )

=
0

(2 + 2 )

= tan

= 2

0 (2

2)

tan 2
= 2

sec
0
1

= 2 tan sec
0

= 2 [ sec ]01

(2 + 2 )
= 2 [
1]

= 2 [(2 + 2 ) ]

= 2

=0

lim = 0 = 1
( )

## Potential due to a Cylinder

Potential at A due to Disk
= 2 [2 + ( )2 ( )]
Total potential at A

= 2 [2 + ( )2 ( )]

= 2 2 + ( )2 2 ( )
= 1 2
2 = 2

) = 2 [

2
2
= 2 [
+ + ]
2
2
2 = 4

1 = 2 2 + ( )2

( + )(2 + ( + )2 ( )(2 + ( )2
1 = 2 [
]
22
1
(2 + ( + )2 + ( + )
+ |
|
2
(2 + ( + )2 + ( )

= 1 2

Gauss Formula
=

+
+

## Where X,Yand Z are the components of vector F in x.y,z directions.

F = X+Y+Z
Physical meaning
Assume that an incompressible fluid is
generated or absorbed by the jets (sources)
inside a surface. Vector F is the velocity.
Then div F is the strength of the jets.

## is the amount of fluid flowing across the surface S in unit time.

In physical geodesy F is the vector of the gravitational force
F = X +Y+Z
=

2 2 2
=
+
+
=
2 2 2

= 4

By poissons equation

## Masses are the sources of gravitational field. Div F is proportional to

mass density.
F dS is the gravitational flux of Force.

## The above equation is Gauss integral formula for the potential.

Harmonic Functions
As the Gravitational Potential in space satisfies = 0 and it is continuous function
and it has continuous First derivatives.
Gravitational Potential in space is harmonic function.

## The simplest Harmonic Function is Reciprocal Distance:

1
1
=
( )2 + ( )2 + ( )2
1
( )
= ( )

3
1
( )
= ( )

3
1
( )
= ( )

1
3
2
2
2
2 ( )
= ( ) 3 ( ) = + 3( )
2
6

Similarly,

1
2
2
2 ( )
= + 3( )
2
5
1
2
2
2 ( )
= + 3( )
2
5
1
1
1
2 ( ) 2 ( ) 2 ( ) 3 2 + 3[( )2 + ( )2 + ( )2 ]
+
+
=
2
2
2

3 2 + 3 2
=
=0
5

1
= 0

## Reciprocal Distance is a solution of = 0

Reciprocal Distance is a harmonic function.
Potential of a solid body is given by,

1
= ( ) = 0

The potential of a solid body is also harmonic at any point outside the masses.

Strokes Theorem
A function V harmonic outside the surface S can be uniquely determined by its values
on S.
. A

## Potential at A can be determined by the potentials on the surface S.

The interior mass distribution is not important.

## Inverse Problem of Potential Theory

Determination of the masses from the potential. There is no unique solution for inverse
problem.
i.e. Same potential can be generated from different size of spheres with equal
masses.

Dirichlets Problem

Problem of computing harmonic function inside or outside the surface from the
boundary values on the surface. This is also known as the 1st boundary value problem
of potential theory.

= sin cos
= sin sin
= cos
=

+
+

+
+

+
+

= sin cos

= cos cos

= r sin sin

= sin sin

= cos sin

= r sin cos

= cos

= sin

= 0

## = sin cos + cos cos sin sin

= sin sin + cos sin + sin cos
= cos sin
2 = 2 + 2 + 2 = 2 + 2 2 + 2 2 2
The general form of the arc in orthogonal coordinate 1 , 2 ,3 is

2 = 12 12 + 22 22 + 32 32
When,

2 = 12 12 + 22 22 + 32 32
It can be shown that Laplace operator is,

1
2 3
3 1
1 2
[
(
)+
(
)+
(
)] (1)
1 2 3 1 1 1
2 2 2
3 3 3

In our case 1 = 1

2 =

3 = sin

1
2

1
sin

+
[
(
)
(sin
)
(
)]
2 sin

sin

2
1 2
2
= 2
+ sin
+ cos
+ sin 2 +
[2 sin
]
sin

sin 2
2 2 1 2 cot
1
2
=
+
+
+ 2
+
2 2 2
2 2 2

## Laplace Equation in Spherical Coordinates

2 2 1 2 cot
1
2
+
+
+ 2
+
=0
2 2 2
2 2 2

(2)

X 2
2
2
V
1 2

+ 2
+
+ cot
+
=0
2
2
2 2
2

(, , ) = (). (, )

= (). (, )

2
= (). (, )
2

= ()

2
2
= () 2
2

= ()

2
2
= () 2
2

## By substituting above values to Laplace Equation

1 2
+ 2 + 2 + cot
+
=0

2 2
2

1 2
1 2

1 2

[ + 2 ] = [ 2 + cot
+
]

2 2

(3)

## L.H.S. of the above equation is a function of and R.H.S. is a function of , .

Therefore both sides must be equal to a constant.

1 2
1 2

1 2

[ + 2 ] = [ 2 + cot
+
] = ( + 1)

2 2
2 + 2 ( + 1) = 0

(5)

1 2
+ cot
+
+ ( + 1) = 0
2
2 2
Solutions of (5) () = () =

= ( )

1
+1

( )

1
+1

(6)
(7)

( ) = () ()

2
=
2

2
=
2

+ cot +

1
+ ( + 1) = 0
2

sin

## L.H.S. of the above equation is a function of and R.H.S. is a function of .

Both sides must be equal to a constant.

sin
[sin + cos + sin ( + 1)] = 2

= 2

## sin + cos + [( + 1) sin

+ 2 = 0

2
] = 0
sin

(4)

Solution = sin

= (cos )

cos
Legendre function

Where

## (, ) = (cos ) cos and (cos ) sin

The most general solution for Laplace Surface Spherical Harmonics is,

=0

=0

=0

OR

(, , ) =
=0

1
+1

=0

= cos
1
() =
2 !

When = 0 ,

(1

2) 2

+ ( 2 1)
+

## 0 () is called as Legendre Polynomials.

1
( 2 1)
() =
2 !

() = (1

2) 2

()

Rodrigus Formula

Recursion Formula

() =

1
2 1
2 () +
+ 1 ()

() = 2 (1

2) 2

(1)
=0

(2 2)!
2
! ( )! ( 2)!

## This formula can be used for programming

Where is the greatest integer ( )/2

0 () = 1
3 () =

1 () =

5 3 3

2
2

2 () =

3 2 1

2
2

4 () =

35 4 15 2 3

+
8
4
8

11 (cos ) = sin

## 21 (cos ) = 3sin cos

22 (cos ) = 3 2

31 (cos ) = sin (

32 (cos ) = 15 2 cos

33 (cos ) = 15 3

15
3
2 )
2
2

## Legendres polynomials ( = 0) have zeros in the interval 0 (1 1)

As = 0 they dont change with . They divide the sphere into
(Change the sign times) and are called as zonal harmonics.

+ 1 zones

## Associated Legendre functions change their signs times in the interval

0 . Mean time function cos and sin have 2 zeros in the interval
0 2. The sphere get divided into zones and 2 sectors to form
tesseral harmonics.

When = there are no sectors, but the sphere get divide into 2 sectors. They
are called Sectorial harmonics.

55 (+) cos 5

## When increasing number of zones also increasing is also increasing. Therefore

tessarals getting smaller, to represent harmonic function accurately.

180

## The Gravity Field of the Earth

The gravity on a body resting on the earth has two components.
1. Gravitational force
2. Centrifugal force

## Centrifugal force on a unit mass = 2

= 2 ( 2 + 2 )1/2

Centrifugal potential is

1 2 2
( + 2 )
2

= 2 ( + )
= 2
The gravity potential

=+

1
= + 2 ( 2 + 2 )

= 4 + 22
This does not satisfies the Laplace equation
When q = 0

= 22 ( 2 + 2 )

( )

=
+ 2 =
3

( )

=
+ 2 =

3
( )

=
+ 2 =

Gravity Vector = + + = =
The magnitude of is called gravity. In physical Geodesy units of gravity is gals (1gal
= 1cms-2). The unit being named in honour of Galileo Galilei.

## pole = 983 gals

The direction of the gravity vector is known as the direction of the plumb line.
In addition to the centrifugal force, Coriolis force act on a moving body with respect to
the earth.

## Level Surface and Plumb Lines

A surface which is having constant potential is known as equipotential surface of Level
surface.
tant

W = W0

Assume
is a vector along the equipotential surface

= + +
. =
.

+
+

=
But on the E.P. surface = 0

. = 0
This is a proof for gravity E.P. surface.
Now will take along the plumb line,

= .

= .
= . . cos(1800 )
= .

## Plumb lines are slightly curved and always to level surfaces.

The height H is measured along the plumb line. Height of a point from Geoid along the
plumb line is called as Orthometric Height
By taking vector along the plumb line

| | =
= . = . cos 180 =
=

Geodetic measurements (Leveling) are almost referred to the system of level surfaces.

Natural Coordinates
Geographical Latitude, Longitude and Orthometric height are known as natural
coordinates.
PN // rotation axis
GPF PN
NPF is the meridional plane
NPG // meridione plane of Greenwich

= cos cos
= cos sin
= sin
= tan1

2 + 2

= tan1 (

= 0 0

=
0

= 0

=
=

## The Gravity Field of the Level Ellipsoid

Level ellipsoid is an equipotential surface of a normal gravity field.

1
= + 2 ( 2 + 2 )
2

2 + 2 2
+ 2=1
2

Normal Gravity

=
Assuming the Curvilinear coordinates of point as (, , ) it can be shown that,
=

2 2 2 2

2 2
=

[(1 +

0
0
) 2 + (1
) 2 ]
3 0
60

2 2
2

= 2 2

1
3 2

0 = [(1 + 2 ) tan1 3 ]
2

0 = 3 (1 +

2
2

tan
)
(1
)
(1
)1
2
2

= 90
At the equator,

0
=
(1
)

60

At the poles,

0
= 2 (1 +
)

30
The following equation will be satisfied by
Clairaut Equation

2
0
=
=
(1 +
)

20
By using above formulas

2 + 2
2 2 + 2 2

tan =
=

tan

2 + 2
2 2 + 2 2

Burns formula

= 2 + 2 2 2

1 1
1
= ( + )
2

(1 2 )
3

(1 2 2 )2

## Outside the ellipsoid = 0

= 2 22

= [1

2
3
(1 + + 2 2 ) + 2 2 ]

## = (0.30877 0.00045 2 ) 0.000072 2

,

(1 2 2 )2

Measurement of Gravity
1. Measurement of absolute gravity
2. Measurement of relative gravity

## 1. Measurement of absolute gravity

a. free falling body method

1 0 = 0 1 +

1 2

2 1

2 0 = 0 2 +

1 2

2 2

3 0 = 0 3 +

1 2

2 3

2 1 = 0 (2 1 ) +

1
(22 12 )
2

2 1
1
= 0 + (2 + 1 )
2 1
2
// y
3 1
1
= 0 + (3 + 1 )
3 1
2
= 2[

(3 1 )(2 1 ) (2 1 )(3 1 )
]
(3 1 )(2 1 )(3 2 )

Free falling body operates uses a laser beam interferometer to measure distance and
atomic clock to measure time.

## 1. Measurement of relative gravity

a. Pendulum method

= 2

12
2
=
1
22

2 1
12 22
=
1
22

= 105
Pendulum gravimeters are not portable.
b. LaCoste and Romberg Gravity meter

## The spring is returned to the original position by rotation of micrometer.

Micrometer reading to be converted to the gravity measurement by calibration table.
There are two models of L and R meters
Model G
Range
700 m gal
Precision 0.005 m gal
Accuracy 0.04 m gal
Model D
Range
200 m gal (Extended 300 m gal)
Precision 5 gal
Accuracy 0.01 m gal

2 1 = (2 1 )