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1. The amount of work required to position a unit charge, unit pole, or unit mass at a given position, usually with respect to infinity. Electric, magnetic, and gravitational fields are scalar potential fields. The gradient of a potential field is called the field strength, field intensity, or flux density; see Gauss theorem. 2. A function from which a quantity can be determined by specified mathematical operations, as a potential field from which seismic displacement, velocity, etc. can be ascertained by differentiation.