Airborne Gravity Across New Zealand - for an Improved Vertical Datum
Abstract:J. McCubbine1, Euan Smith1, Matt Amos2, Rachelle Winefield2 & Fabio Caratori Tontini3
1 Victoria University of Wellington, Kelburn Parade, Wellington.
2Land Information New Zealand, National Geodetic Office, Wellington.
3GNS Science, Lower Hutt.
Land Information New Zealand in collaboration with GNS Science and Victoria University has completed the first
national airborne gravity survey of New Zealand. The aim of the programme was to determine gravity anomalies at
a 10 kilometre wavelength and thereby compute a national geoid with at least 3 centimetre accuracy.
The airborne gravity data consist of a uniform set of measurements that cover the whole of New Zealand, including
the shallow coastal areas and rough topography that have previously been extremely difficult to survey. Over
50,000 line-kilometres of surveying were completed in two campaigns during August - October 2013 and February –
After the removal of erroneous data and flight line biases, using novel methods, a repeatability of approximately 2
mGal has been achieved and agreement with terrestrial gravity measurements of 3.5 mGal after downward
continuation along two calibration lines. Overall the airborne data have a cross over error of around 5.8 mGal and a
difference from existing terrestrial data with a standard deviation of around 8 mGal and zero mean.
A method to efficiently compute terrain corrections using a modified version Hammer’s formula to approximate a
prism has been employed and a combined gravity anomaly grid of the airborne and existing terrestrial data has been
calculated by least squares collocation. This grid is then used to determine the new gravimetric geoid which is
compared to GNSS levelling data.