A novel approach to reduce environmental noise in microgravity measurements using a Scintrex CG5

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The accuracy and repeatability of microgravity measurements for surveying purposes are affected by two main sources of noise; instrument noise from the sensor and electronics and environmental sources of noise from anthropogenic activity, wind, microseismic activity and other sources of vibrational noise. There is little information in the literature on the quantitative values of these different noise sources and their significance for microgravity measurements. Experiments were conducted to quantify these sources of noise with multiple instruments and to develop methodologies to reduce these unwanted signals thereby improving the accuracy or speed of microgravity measurements. External environmental sources of noise were found to be concentrated at higher frequencies (> 0.1 Hz), well within the instrument’s bandwidth. In contrast, the internal instrumental noise was dominant at frequencies much lower than the reciprocal of the maximum integration time, and was identified as the limiting factor for current instruments. The optimum time for integration was found to be between 120 to 150 seconds for the instruments tested. In order to reduce the effects of external environmental noise on microgravity measurements, a filtering and despiking technique was created using data from noisy environments next to a main road and outside on a windy day. The technique showed a significant improvement in the repeatability of measurements, with between 40% and 50% lower standard deviations being obtained over numerous different data sets. The filtering technique was then tested in field conditions by using an anomaly of known size, and a comparison made between different filtering methods. Results showed improvements with the proposed method performing better than a conventional, or boxcar, averaging process. The proposed despiking process was generally found to be ineffective, with greater gains obtained when complete measurement records were discarded. Field survey results were worse than static measurement results, possibly due to the actions of moving the Scintrex during the survey which caused instability and elastic relaxation in the sensor, or the liquid tilt sensors, which generated additional low frequency instrument noise. However, the technique will result in significant improvements to accuracy and a reduction of measurement time, both for static measurements, for example at reference sites and observatories, and for field measurements using the next generation of instruments based on new technology, such as atom interferometry, resulting in time and cost savings.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)221-235
JournalJournal of Applied Geophysics
Early online date29 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - May 2018


  • microgravity, signal processing, noise reduction