Gravity surveys using a mobile atom interferometer

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Science Advances  06 Sep 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 9, eaax0800
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aax0800


Mobile gravimetry is important in metrology, navigation, geodesy, and geophysics. Atomic gravimeters could be among the most accurate mobile gravimeters but are currently constrained by being complex and fragile. Here, we demonstrate a mobile atomic gravimeter, measuring tidal gravity variations in the laboratory and surveying gravity in the field. The tidal gravity measurements achieve a sensitivity of 37 μGal/Hz (1 μGal = 10 nm/s2) and a long-term stability of better than 2 μGal, revealing ocean tidal loading effects and recording several distant earthquakes. We survey gravity in the Berkeley Hills with an uncertainty of around 0.04 mGal and determine the density of the subsurface rocks from the vertical gravity gradient. With simplicity and sensitivity, our instrument paves the way for bringing atomic gravimeters to field applications.

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