DL-1 Gravimeter

While studying physics with Arnold Romberg at the University of Texas in 1933, Lucien LaCoste designed a seismometer with a so-called "zero length spring." LaCoste and Romberg formed a partnership in 1939 and began making seismometers and then gravity meters incorporating springs of this sort.
As gravity meters became ever more precise, LaCoste realized that they could be used to measure earth tides. H. Neal Clarkson, a machinist at LaCoste & Romberg, designed and built the first earth tide meter under LaCoste's direction, this work serving as Clarkson's dissertation project for a PhD in physics from the University of Texas.
The DL-1 was an improved instrument that could detect variations in gravity of the order of one microgal, or one part in a billion. It was built by LaCoste & Romberg in 1953 and installed in the firm's workshop in Austin, Texas. The Institute of Geophysics at UCLA acquired the DL-1 for the worldwide survey of earth tides that it conducted during the International Geophysical Year 1957-1958. The Institute donated the instrument to the Smithsonian in 2000.
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
LaCoste & Romberg
overall: 37.3 cm x 42 cm x 26 cm; 14 11/16 in x 16 17/32 in x 10 1/4 in
place made
United States: Texas, Austin
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences
Science & Mathematics
Measuring & Mapping
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center


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