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Open-File Report 02-463

Rationale and Operational Plan to Upgrade the U.S Gravity Database

By Thomas G. Hildenbrand, Allen Briesacher, Guy Flanagan, William J. Hinze, A.M. Hittelman, G.R. Keller, R.P. Kucks, Donald Plouff, Walter Roest, John Seeley, D.A. Smith, and Mike Webring

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (256 kB)Introduction

A concerted effort is underway to prepare a substantially upgraded digital gravity anomaly database for the United States and to make this data set and associated usage tools available on the internet. This joint effort, spearheaded by the geophysics groups at the National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA), University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), is an outgrowth of the new geoscientific community initiative called Geoinformatics ( This dominantly geospatial initiative reflects the realization by Earth scientists that existing information systems and techniques are inadequate to address the many complex scientific and societal issues. Currently, inadequate standardization and chaotic distribution of geoscience data, inadequate accompanying documentation, and the lack of easy-to-use access tools and computer codes for analysis are major obstacles for scientists, government agencies, and educators. An example of the type of activities envisioned, within the context of Geoinformatics, is the construction, maintenance, and growth of a public domain gravity database and development of the software tools needed to access, implement, and expand it. This product is far more than a high quality database; it is a complete data system for a specific type of geophysical measurement that includes, for example, tools to manipulate the data and tutorials to understand and properly utilize the data. On August 9, 2002, twenty-one scientists from the federal, private and academic sectors met at a workshop to discuss the rationale for upgrading both the United States and North American gravity databases (including offshore regions) and, more importantly, to begin developing an operational plan to effectively create a new gravity data system. We encourage anyone interested in contributing data or participating in this effort to contact G.R. Keller or T.G. Hildenbrand.

This workshop was the first step in building a web-based data system for sharing quality gravity data and methodology, and it builds on existing collaborative efforts. This compilation effort will result in significant additions to and major refinement of the U.S. database that is currently released publicly by NOAA’s National Geophysical Data Center and will also include an additional objective to substantially upgrade the North American database, released over 15 years ago (Committee for the Gravity Anomaly Map of North America, 1987).

First posted November 27, 2002

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For additional information, contact:
Geology, Minerals, Energy, and Geophysics Science Center
U.S. Geological Survey
345 Middlefield Road, MS 901
Menlo Park, CA 94025-3591

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Suggested citation:

Hildenbrand, Thomas G., Briesacher, Allen, Flanagan, Guy, Hinze, William J., Hittelman, A. M., Keller, G. R., Kucks, R. P., Plouff, Donald, Roest, Walter, Seeley, John, Smith, D. A., Webring, Mike, 2002, Rationale and Operational Plan to Upgrade the U.S Gravity Database: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 02-463, 12 pp.,



Rational to upgrade the U.S. database

Operational plan to upgrade the U.S. database

Scheduled activities and summary


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