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Characteristics of tidal gravity changes in Lhasa, Tibet, China

Xu, JianQiao, Chen, XiaoDong, Zhou, JiangCun, Sun, HePing
Chinese science bulletin 2012 v.57 no.20 pp. 2586-2594
gravity, physical properties, tides, China
Tidal gravity changes arise from the response of the solid Earth to the tidal forces of the Sun, Moon and planets close to the Earth, and are a comprehensive reflection of the structure and distribution of physical properties of the Earth’s interior. As a result, observations of tidal gravity changes are the basis of studies on other global and/or regional dynamic processes. The characteristics of tidal gravity changes in the region of the Tibetan Plateau were investigated through continuous gravity measurements recorded with a superconducting gravimeter (SG) installed in Lhasa over a year. Through contrast measurements with a spring gravimeter LaCoste-Romberg ET20 at the same site, the gravity observations in Lhasa were scaled to the international tidal gravity reference in Wuhan. Meanwhile, the scale factor of the SG was determined accurately as −777.358 ± 0.136 nm s−2 V−1, which is about 2.2% less than the value provided by the manufacturer. The results indicate that the precision of the tidal gravity observations made with the SG in Lhasa was very high. The standard deviation was 0.459 nm s−2, and the uncertainties of for the four main tidal waves (i.e. O1, K1, M2 and S2) were better than 0.006%. In addition, the observations of the diurnal gravity tides had an obvious pattern of nearly diurnal resonance. As a result, it is affirmed that the Lhasa station can provide a local tidal gravity reference for gravity measurements on the Tibetan Plateau and its surrounding regions. The loading effects of oceanic tides on tidal gravity observations in Lhasa are so weak that the resulting perturbations in the gravimetric factors are less than 0.6%. However, the loading effects of the local atmosphere on either the tidal or nontidal gravity observations are significant, although no seasonal variations were found. After removal of the atmospheric effects, the standard deviation of the SG observations in Lhasa decreased obviously from 2.009 to 0.459 nm s−2. Having removed the loading effects of oceanic tides and local atmosphere, it was found that the tidal gravity observations made with the SG in Lhasa significantly differed by about 1% from those expected theoretically, which may be related to active tectonic movement and the extremely thick crust in the region of the Tibetan Plateau. A more-certain conclusion requires longer accumulation of SG data and further associated theoretical studies.