Capability assessment and challenges for quantum technology gravity sensors for near surface terrestrial geophysical surveying

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Geophysical surveying is widely used for the location of subsurface features. Current technology is limited in terms of its resolution (thus size of features it can detect) and penetration depth and a suitable technique is needed to bridge the gap between shallow near surface investigation using techniques such as EM conductivity mapping and GPR commonly used to map the upper 5 m below ground surface, and large features at greater depths detectable using conventional microgravity (> ~5 m below ground surface). This will minimise the risks from unknown features buried in and conditions of the ground during civil engineering work. Quantum technology (QT) gravity sensors potentially offer a step-change in technology for locating features which lie outside of the currently detectable range in terms of size and depth, but that potential is currently unknown as field instruments have not been developed. To overcome this, a novel computer simulation was developed for a large range of different targets of interest. The simulation included realistic noise modelling of instrumental, environmental and location sources of noise which limit the accuracy of current microgravity measurements, in order to assess the potential capability of the new QT instruments in realistic situations and determine some of the likely limitations on their implementation.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-159
JournalJournal of Applied Geophysics
Early online date28 Sep 2017
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2017


  • computer simulation, civil engineering, quantum gravity, gravity gradiometer