EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Deploying and operating an Absolute Quantum Gravimeter on the summit of Mount Etna volcano

Daniele Carbone1, Laura Antoni-Micollier2, Filippo Greco1, Jean Lautier-Gaud2, Danilo Contrafatto1, Vincent Ménoret2, and Alfio Messina1
Daniele Carbone et al.
  • 1INGV, Osservatorio Etneo - Sezione di Catania, Catania, Italy (
  • 2MUQUANS, Institut d’Optique d’Aquitaine, Talence, France

The NEWTON-g project [1] proposes a paradigm shift in terrain gravimetry to overcome the limitations imposed by currently available instrumentation. The project targets the development of an innovative gravity imager and the field-test of the new instrumentation through the deployment at Mount Etna volcano (Italy). The gravity imager consists in an array of MEMS-based relative gravimeters anchored on an Absolute Quantum Gravimeter [2].
The Absolute Quantum Gravimeter (AQG) is an industry-grade gravimeter measuring g with laser-cooled atoms [3]. Within the NEWTON-g project, an enhanced version of the AQG (AQGB03) has been developed, which is able to produce high-quality data against strong volcanic tremor at the installation site.
After reviewing the key principles of the AQG, we present the deployment of the AQGB03 at the Pizzi Deneri (PDN) Volcanological Observatory (North flank of Mt. Etna; 2800 m elevation; 2.5 km from the summit active craters), which was completed in summer 2020. We then show the demonstrated measurement performances of the AQG, in terms of sensitivity and stability. In particular, we report on a reproducible sensitivity to gravity at a level of 1 μGal, even during intense volcanic activity.
We also discuss how the time series acquired by AQGB03 at PDN compares with measurements from superconducting gravimeters already installed at Mount Etna. In particular, the significant  correlation with gravity data collected at sites 5 to 9 km away from PDN proves that effects due to bulk mass sources, likely related to volcanic processes, are predominant over possible local and/or instrumental artifacts.
This work demonstrates the feasibility to operate a free-falling quantum gravimeter in the field, both as a transportable turn-key device and as a drift-free monitoring device, able to provide high-quality continuous measurements under harsh environmental conditions. It paves the way to a wider use of absolute gravimetry for geophysical monitoring.


[2] D. Carbone et al., “The NEWTON-g Gravity Imager: Toward New Paradigms for Terrain Gravimetry”, Front. Earth Sci. 8:573396 (2020)

[3] V. Ménoret et al., "Gravity measurements below 10−9 g with a transportable absolute quantum gravimeter", Nature Scientific Reports, vol. 8, 12300 (2018)

How to cite: Carbone, D., Antoni-Micollier, L., Greco, F., Lautier-Gaud, J., Contrafatto, D., Ménoret, V., and Messina, A.: Deploying and operating an Absolute Quantum Gravimeter on the summit of Mount Etna volcano, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-15186,, 2021.