What is the geoid


1828: C.F. Gauss first describes the "mathematical figure of the Earth" (Heiskanen and Moritz, 1967, p. 49 ; Torge, 1991, p. 2 ; Gauss, 1828)

1849: G.G. Stokes derives the formula for computing the "surface of the Earth's original fluidity" from surface gravity measurements. This later became immortalized as "Stokes's integral" (Heiskanen and Moritz, 1967, p. 94; Stokes, 1849)

1873: J.F. Listing coins the term "geoid" to describe this mathematical surface (Torge, 1991, p. 2 ; Listing, 1873)

1880: F.R. Helmert presents the first full treatise on "Physical geodesy", including the problem of computing the shape of the geoid.


Gauss, C.F., 1828: Bestimmung des Breitenunterscchiedes zwischen den Sternwarten von Gottingen und Altona, Gottingen.

Heiskanen, W.A. and H. Moritz, 1967: Physical Geodesy, W.H. Freeman, San Francisco, 364 pp.

Helmert, F.R., 1880: Die mathematischen und physicalischen Theorien der hoheren Geodasie, Teubner, Leipzip, Frankfurt.

Listing, J.B., 1873: Uber unsere jetzige Kenntnis der Gestalt und Grosse der Erde, Nachr. d. Kgl., Gesellsch. d. Wiss. und der Georg-August-Univ., 33-98, Gottingen.

Stokes, G.G., 1849: On the variation of gravity at the surface of the Earth, Transactions of the Cambridge Philosophical Society, V. 8, p. 672.

Torge, W., 1991: Geodesy, Walter de Gruyter, Berlin, 264 pp

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