Lacoste and Romberg Gravimeter

Gravimeters (gravity meters) are extremely precise instruments that measure the earth’s gravity at a specific location. Gravimeters are often used by prospectors to locate subterranean deposits of valuable natural resources (mainly petroleum) as well as by geodesists to study the shape of the earth and its gravitational field. Differences in topography, latitude, or elevation—as well as differences in subterranean density—all affect the force of gravity. Commonly, gravimeters are composed of a weight hanging on a zero-length spring inside a metal housing to negate the influence of temperature and wind. Gravity is then measured by how much the weight stretches the spring.
This is a cutaway model showing the zero-length spring that forms the heart of every LaCoste & Romberg gravimeter. LaCoste & Romberg, Inc. donated it to the Smithsonian in 1967.
Currently not on view
Object Name
gravity meter, La Coste-Romberg
LaCoste & Romberg
overall: 52 cm x 16 cm x 34 cm; 20 15/32 in x 6 5/16 in x 13 3/8 in
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
See more items in
Work and Industry: Agriculture and Natural Resources
Measuring & Mapping
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center


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