Encyclopedia of Solid Earth Geophysics

Living Edition
| Editors: Harsh K. Gupta

International Gravity Formula

  • Hans-Jürgen GötzeEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-10475-7_102-1


As a first approximation, the Earth is a rotating sphere. As a second approximation, it can be regarded as an equipotential ellipsoid of revolution. According to Moritz (1980), the theory of this equipotential ellipsoid was first given by P. Pizzetti in 1894. It was further elaborated by C. Somigliana in 1929 and served already as the basis for the International Gravity Formula adopted at the General Assembly of the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics (IUGG) in Stockholm in 1930.

One particular ellipsoid of revolution, also called the “normal Earth” or “normal spheroid,” is the one having the same angular velocity and the same mass as the actual Earth, the potential U 0 on the ellipsoid surface equal to the potential W 0 on the geoid, and the center coincident with the center of mass of the Earth. The Geodetic Reference System 1967 (GRS 67), Geodetic Reference System 1980 (GRS 80), and World Geodetic System 1984 (WGS 84) all are “normal Earth” models.

The normal or...
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Hackney RI, Featherstone WE (2003) Geodetic versus geophysical perspectives of the “gravity anomaly”. Geophys J Int 154:35–43CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Heiskanen WA, Moritz H (1967) Physical geodesy. W. H. Freeman, San FranciscoGoogle Scholar
  3. Hinze WJ, von Frese RRB, Saad AH (2013) Gravity and Magnetic Exploration: Principles, Practices, and Applications. Cambridge University Press, p 130. ISBN 978-1-107-32819-8.Google Scholar
  4. Li X, Götze H-J (2001) Ellipsoid, geoid, gravity, geodesy and geophysics. Geophysics 66:1660–1668CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Moritz H (1980) Geodetic reference system. Bull Geod 54:395–405CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Woollard GP (1979) The new gravity system – changes in international gravity base values and anomaly values. Geophysics 44:1352–1366CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Geosciences, Working group Satellite- and AerogeophysicsChristian-Albrechts-Universität zu KielKielGermany