Evaluation of Shipboard and Satellite-Derived Bathymetry and Gravity Data Over Seamounts in the Northwest Pacific Ocean

A. B. Watts, B. Tozer, H. Harper, B. Boston, D. J. Shillington, R. Dunn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Earth's surface topography/bathymetry and gravity fields provide important constraints on crustal structure and the tectonic processes that act on it due, for example, to plate flexure and mantle convection. Such studies require, however, high accuracy measurements at a wide range of spatial scales. During the past few decades much progress has been made in the acquisition of bathymetry and gravity data using both shipboard and satellite altimeter methods. Surprisingly, there have been few comparisons of these data. During April–June, 2019 we had the opportunity onboard a R/V Marcus G. Langseth cruise in the northwest Pacific Ocean to compare data acquired with an EM122 Kongsberg swath bathymetry system and a refurbished Bell Aerospace BGM-3 gravimeter with the most recent global bathymetry and gravity fields. We find that while the recovery of bathymetry and gravity from satellite radar altimeter data in areas of sparse shipboard data has been impressive, root mean square discrepancies in the range 175.5–303.4 m and 2.6–6.3 mGal exist between shipboard and satellite-derived data. While these discrepancies are small, they are highly correlated and therefore have implications for the density structure, rock type and geological processes occurring on the deep seafloor. Shipboard data should continue to be acquired, especially over features such as seamounts, banks, and ridges that are associated with short wavelength (<25 km wavelength) bathymetric and gravimetric features beyond that is recoverable in satellite-derived data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2020JB020396
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020


  • gravity anomalies and Earth structure (1219)
  • instruments and techniques (940)
  • marine geology and geophysics (3000)
  • satellite geodesy (1240)
  • seafloor morphology (3045)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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