Estimation of heading gyrocompass error using a GPS 3DF system: Impact on ADCP measurements


  • Simón Ruiz Grupo de Oceanografía Interdisciplinar, IMEDEA (CSIC-UIB)
  • Jordi Font Institut de Ciències del Mar, CMIMA, CSIC
  • Gwyn Griffiths Ocean Technology Division, Southampton Oceanography Center
  • Arturo Castellón Unidad de Tecnología Marina, CMIMA, CSIC



ADCP, heading, horizontal currents, Alboran Sea


Traditionally the horizontal orientation in a ship (heading) has been obtained from a gyrocompass. This instrument is still used on research vessels but has an estimated error of about 2-3 degrees, inducing a systematic error in the cross-track velocity measured by an Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP). The three-dimensional positioning system (GPS 3DF) provides an independent heading measurement with accuracy better than 0.1 degree. The Spanish research vessel BIO Hespérides has been operating with this new system since 1996. For the first time on this vessel, the data from this new instrument are used to estimate gyrocompass error. The methodology we use follows the scheme developed by Griffiths (1994), which compares data from the gyrocompass and the GPS system in order to obtain an interpolated error function. In the present work we apply this methodology on mesoscale surveys performed during the observational phase of the OMEGA project, in the Alboran Sea. The heading-dependent gyrocompass error dominated. Errors in gyrocompass heading of 1.4-3.4 degrees have been found, which give a maximum error in measured cross-track ADCP velocity of 24 cm s-1.


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How to Cite

Ruiz S, Font J, Griffiths G, Castellón A. Estimation of heading gyrocompass error using a GPS 3DF system: Impact on ADCP measurements. scimar [Internet]. 2002Dec.30 [cited 2022Dec.10];66(4):347-54. Available from:




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