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(jee -oid) The form of the Earth obtained by taking the average sea level surface and extending it across the continents. It is an equipotential surface defined by measurements of the variation of the Earth's gravitational attraction with latitude and longitude and the acceleration produced by the Earth's rotation. The geoid differs from a sphere in that the equatorial diameter (12 756.32 km) is greater than the diameter through the poles (12 713.51 km). The flattening of the Earth corresponds to the difference between these diameters as a fraction of the equatorial diameter and has a value of 1/298.257.

Studies of the perturbations affecting the orbits of artificial Earth satellites have shown that the geoid departs from an oblate spheroid, or ellipsoid; this is a result of density anomalies within the Earth and supports the theory of dynamic convective processes in the mantle. There are more than ten elevations and depressions on the true geoid, scattered worldwide and typically of 40–60 meters. The greatest departures are a 105-meter depression to the south of India and a 75-meter elevation to the north of Australia.

Collins Dictionary of Astronomy © Market House Books Ltd, 2006
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



the figure that the surfaces of the oceans and their contiguous seas would form at a certain average level of water free from disturbances caused by tides, currents, variations in atmospheric pressure, and the like. The surface of the geoid is one of the equipotential surfaces of the force of gravity. This surface, which is theoretically extended beneath the continents, forms a closed figure that is accepted as the smoothed figure of the earth. Often the geoid is understood to mean the equipotential surface passing through a certain fixed point on the earth’s surface near the shore of the sea. The necessity of such a definition of the concept of geoid resulted from difficulties in determining the connection between the real earth and the undisturbed average sea level. The notion of a geoid formed as a result of the prolonged development of the conceptions of the earth’s shape as a planet, and the term itself was suggested by I. Listing in 1873. Leveled elevations are calculated from the geoid. According to present data, the average deviation of the geoid from the best selected spheroid of the earth is about ±50 m, and the maximum deviation does not exceed ±100 m. The sum of the geoid’s height and the orthometric height determines the height N of a corresponding point above the earth’s ellipsoid. As long as the distribution of density in the earth’s interior is not accurately known, the height N in geodetic gravimetry and geodesy is determined, according to M. S. Molodenskii’s proposal, as the sum of the normal height and the height of the quasi-geoid. (Height N is necessary for determining the coordinates of points on the earth’s surface of approximate-earth space in a single Cartesian system.) The surface of the quasi-geoid (“almost a geoid”) is determined by the values of the potential gravity on the earth’s surface, and to study the geoid it is not necessary that the results of measurements be reduced within the attracting body. The quasi-geoid deviates from the geoid by 2-3 m in high mountains and by 2-3 cm in low-lying plains. The surfaces of the geoid and quasi-geoid coincide in the seas and oceans. The shape of the quasi-geoid is determined by astronomical-gravimetric leveling or by preliminary determination of the perturbation potential on the continents by terrestrial gravimetric surveys and observations of the movements of artificial earth satellites. The latter data is necessary because of the lack of gravimetric studies of some areas on the earth.


Zakatov, P. S. Kurs vysshei geodezii, 3rd ed. Moscow, 1964.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


The figure of the earth considered as a sea-level surface extended continuously over the entire earth's surface.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
References in periodicals archive ?
For the current study the target area is defined as the area in which a grid of gravity anomalies and a gravimetric geoid model are calculated.
leveling geoid 2001, geoidpol2008, geoidpol2008A, geoidpol2008C, PL-geoid-2011.
Main objective of GOCE is to participate in measuring the earth's gravity field and modelling the geoid with perfect accuracy and spatial resolution.
Two kinds of errors that propagated from the gravity data to the geoid modelling could be distinguished: (1) the omission error related to the spatial resolution of data and (2) the commission error related to random and systematic (correlated) noise components in data (see e.g.
Satellite mapping has vastly improved the accuracy of the earth's geoid. A global datum requires that the reference ellipsoid has its origin related to the centre of the earth and best fit to the geoid.
Understanding this natural shape of Earth's oceans, called the geoid, is essential to sea level research.
A pictorial image of earth showing the impact of gravity and rotation on the ocean surface (without the effect of wind and tide) is called a Geoid. It is this Geoid that we have been more precisely able to draw with data gathered from GOCE.
Tanenbaum, <<Preliminary comparisons of the WGS84(EGM 96) geoid with national vertical datums,>> de OCEANS, 2001.
This set has a spatial resolution of 2'arc (~3.7 km) and is based on data retrieved from multiple platforms with interpolation and correction at 3-4 km above the geoid.
The starting point A of a route is located at the reference surface of levelling (for example on the geoid), which is an equipotential surface [W.sub.0].