Bryan 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 gravimeter was built in 1940 under the direction of Andrew Bonnell Bryan (1897 1989), a Ph.D. physicist who served for many years as Director of the Geophysics Division of the Carter Oil Co., in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It is similar to the other Carter gravimeter in the collection. The Carter Oil Co. donated this instrument to the Smithsonian in 1959.
Ref: F. G. Boucher to P. W. Bishop, August 6, 1959, in NMAH accession file. Boucher was at this time Senior Research Associate at Jersey Production Research Co.
Notes prepared by D. G. Gardner, August 19, 1959, in NMAH accession file 230,370.
Currently not on view
Object Name
parts, gravity meter
date made
Carter Oil Company
place made
United States: Oklahoma, Tulsa
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Measuring & Mapping
Natural Resources
See more items in
Work and Industry: Agriculture and Natural Resources
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

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