Low-cost MEMS Gravimeters for Underwater Gravimetry and Submarine Detection

Aftalion, M. et al. (2018) Low-cost MEMS Gravimeters for Underwater Gravimetry and Submarine Detection. AGU Fall Meeting, Washington, D.C., USA, 10-14 Dec 2018.

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Publisher's URL: https://agu.confex.com/agu/fm18/meetingapp.cgi/Paper/434058

Abstract

Gravimeters have many applications in Earth science and industry, ranging from volcanology and monitoring the melting of ice sheets to resource exploration and geodesy but they tend to be heavy and expensive, weighing upwards of 6 kilograms and costing more than 100,000 USD. A gravimeter based on MEMS (Micro Electro-Mechanical Systems) technology is currently being developed at the University of Glasgow that has the potential to be much smaller, more lightweight and cheaper than current state-of-the-art gravimeters while still having comparable sensitivity (currently 8μGal Hz-1/2). Such a gravimeter could revolutionise the field by offering a cheaper alternative to contemporary gravimetric surveys, making gravimetry more accessible for projects with limited funding. The small size and low weight of the MEMS gravimeter will make it possible to mount the device on UAVs or submersible drones instead of using light aircraft or large submersibles, making airborne and marine gravimetry cheaper. The relatively low cost of a single MEMS device will also make it practical to deploy many gravimeters in large networked arrays for long-term gravitational surveying of large regions that would be prohibitively expensive with other gravimeters. Finite Element Analysis models are being developed at the University of Glasgow to investigate the potential capabilities of MEMS gravimeters when used for marine gravimetry - specifically, for the detection of submarines and undersea terrain for the purposes of coastal defence and submarine navigation. These models are being used to simulate the gravitational fields caused by submarine-like densities and have predicted that, at its current sensitivity, the MEMS gravimeter would be able to detect a submarine at a distance of 80m. Experimental tests are being planned which will involve deploying a MEMS gravimeter in a waterproof enclosure and testing its ability to detect nearby lead weights and submersible drones. These tests will provide an opportunity to test predictions made by the models with real data, to check their accuracy, and will also demonstrate the use of the MEMS gravimeter in an underwater situation. This work will also have profound impacts on other applications of marine gravimetry such as finding active tectonic faults or hydrothermal mineral deposits in the seafloor.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Aftalion, Mr Marc and Bramsiepe, Mr Steven and Hammond, Professor Giles and Hild, Professor Stefan and Middlemiss, Dr Richard and Noack, Mr Andreas and Prasad, Dr Abhinav and Rowan, Professor Sheila and Paul, Professor Douglas and Hough, Professor James
Authors: Aftalion, M., Middlemiss, R., Bramsiepe, S., Prasad, A., Noack, A., Hild, S., Hough, J., Rowan, S., Paul, D., Marshall, G., and Hammond, G.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Physics and Astronomy

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