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Abstract: Gravity Field Recovery from Satellite Altimetry: Can we do Better on the Continental Margins?

Sandwell, David and Mara Yale - Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Satellite altimeter measurements collected during the Seasat mission demonstrated their potential for detailed gravity field recovery over all the ocean basins. However because of insufficient track density, it has taken 16 years for the full potential of the satellite altimeter method to be realized. The first high-density coverage became available in late 1995 when ERS-1 completed its geodetic mapping phase and US Navy declassified all of the Geosat altimeter data. Data coverage from these two missions is spectacular but how accurate are the gravity fields? We try to answer these questions by discussing the inherent limitations of satellite altimetry for gravity field recovery.

Recently we have constructed higher accuracy profiles along widely spaced ground tracks of the exact repeat missions from Geosat, ERS-1/2 and Topex/Poseidon. The stacked ERS-1/2 provide the best spatial coverage having an average track spacing of about 40 km. These higher quality profiles and less accurate gridded gravity estimates to provide the optimal gravity field recovery of remote continental margins. Examples from the Gulf of Mexico will be discussed.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90933©1998 ABGP/AAPG International Conference and Exhibition, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil