Laboratory for Instrumentation

The scientific activities carried out by the RMI in Dourbes require specific developments in instrumentation. Therefore, the Geophysical Centre hosts a laboratory in order to design, prototype and develop custom-tailored measuring instruments unavailable on the market. This laboratory is experienced in mechanics, electronics, mechatronics and computer programming, and has specific knowledge of magnetic phenomena and their consideration in measurement automation. Beyond the needs of the scientific activities carried out in Dourbes, the RMI markets some of these instruments.

Hereunder, some examples of recently developed instruments and their applications (see the Geophysical Centre website for more information):

Autodif / Gyrodif

This instrument is used for calibration measurements in magnetic observatories. Among all the measuring instruments required to operate a magnetic observatory, it was the one most difficult to automate because this robot must perform movements without generating any disturbing magnetic field.
The Autodif differs from the Gyrodif in the way of taking the reference azimuth. The Autodif uses a laser, which has the advantage of high precision but the disadvantage of being sensitive to climatic conditions. In contrast, the Gyrodif uses a gyroscope, whose accuracy is not as good as the laser but has the advantage of being insensitive to climatic conditions.

The RMI markets this instrument worldwide, including customers from Australia, Austria, Denmark (observatory in Greenland), Japan, South Korea, and Spain (Antarctic observatory). Since this instrument meets the operational and scientific requirements of internationally recognised magnetic observatories (Intermagnet), the RMI significantly supports quality improvement of global earthbound magnetic observations. A technical description of this instrument can be found here.

Moreover, based on this instrument, the RMI created the first fully automated magnetic observatory. Since this product is meeting the needs of industrial applications, RMI patented this technology in order to further support business development.


This instrument is used for geomagnetic measurements similar to those made by Autodif / Gyrodif (absolute measurements of magnetic declination and inclination), but manually. It is a field instrument, used by the RMI to update the geomagnetic maps of Belgium and to provide various services to airports.
FLM4 differs from WIDIF in their features: the FLM4 offers the largest autonomy while the WIDIF, wireless version, is more ergonomic. A technical description of this instrument can be found here.
The RMI markets this instrument worldwide, including customers from Pakistan, Portugal and Spain.

Magnetic susceptibility bench

This bench is used for automated measurements of magnetic susceptibility of drill cores. The magnetic susceptibility of materials is an intrinsic physical quantity that can be measured on natural samples (rocks, sediments) and synthetic materials. This bench was designed and built to meet the needs of the Laboratory for Environmental Magnetism.


Ir. François Humbled (FR-NL), Group leader
Tel.: +32 (0)60 39 54 24
E-mail: fhumbled[at]

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