Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Unique geologic insights from "non-unique" gravity and magnetic interpretation

02.12.2011
The December GSA TODAY science article, "Unique geologic insights from “non-unique” gravity and magnetic interpretation,” is now online at www.geosociety.org/gsatoday/. All GSA Today articles are open access.

In many fields of applied science, such as geology, there are often tensions and disagreements between scientists who specialize in analyses of problems using mathematical models to describe sets of collected data, and those that rely on on-the-ground observations and empirical analyses.

One common source of these disagreements arises from applications of geophysics -- studies of variations in gravity or Earth's magnetic field -- that use models that are strictly (from a mathematical point of view) non-unique. For example, using theories derived from Isaac Newton's studies of gravitational attraction, a geophysicist who measures local variations in gravitational acceleration that are produced by contrasts in the density of rocks below Earth's surface can calculate an infinite set of mathematically valid sources (with different shapes, depths, and contrasts in density) that would explain the measured gravity difference (or anomaly). This theoretical non-uniqueness leads many geologists to conclude that such geophysical information is of limited value, given the infinite number of possible correct answers to those numerical problems.

In the December 2011 issue of GSA Today, Richard Saltus and Richard Blakely, two U.S. Geological Survey scientists with extensive experience using gravity and magnetic field models to help improve the understanding of a number of geological problems, present several excellent examples of unique interpretations that can be made from "non-unique" models. Their motivation for this article is to improve communication among various geologists regarding the ability (and limitations of) gravity and magnetic field data to yield important information about the subsurface geology of an area or region.

This communication barrier is an important issue, because a great deal of our understanding of the geology of Earth and the planets is primarily derived from these types of geophysical measurements. More practically, geophysical tools such as gravity and magnetic field measurements are used in mineral and hydrocarbon exploration, so the utilization of these methods can aid economic development by locating subsurface mineral resources more efficiently that other techniques (such as drilling and excavating).

In their article, Saltus and Blakely advocate a holistic approach to geological studies. By combining other observations -- such as the surface location of a fault or the likely density contrast between a set of different rock units based on their composition -- the infinite array of theoretical solutions to some of these potential-field geophysical models can be narrowed down to a few, or even one, best interpretation(s). They present a number of examples where this approach can successfully solve important geological issues -- one of the best is an analysis of magnetic anomaly data from the Puget Sound area that allows a detailed image of the active Seattle Fault zone to be constructed.

Unique geologic insights from “non-unique” gravity and magnetic interpretation
Richard W. Saltus, U.S. Geological Survey, MS 964, Denver, Colorado 80225-0046; and Richard J. Blakely, U.S. Geological Survey, 345 Middlefield Road, MS 989, Menlo Park, California 94025, USA. Pages 4–10, doi: 10.1130/G136A.1

Peer-reviewed GSA TODAY articles are open access at www.geosociety.org/gsatoday/. Please discuss articles of interest with the authors before publishing stories on their work, and please make reference to GSA TODAY in articles published. Contact Christa Stratton for additional information or assistance.

Christa Stratton | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.geosociety.org

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht NASA flights gauge summer sea ice melt in the Arctic
25.07.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

nachricht NASA looks to solar eclipse to help understand Earth's energy system
21.07.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Carbon Nanotubes Turn Electrical Current into Light-emitting Quasi-particles

Strong light-matter coupling in these semiconducting tubes may hold the key to electrically pumped lasers

Light-matter quasi-particles can be generated electrically in semiconducting carbon nanotubes. Material scientists and physicists from Heidelberg University...

Im Focus: Flexible proximity sensor creates smart surfaces

Fraunhofer IPA has developed a proximity sensor made from silicone and carbon nanotubes (CNT) which detects objects and determines their position. The materials and printing process used mean that the sensor is extremely flexible, economical and can be used for large surfaces. Industry and research partners can use and further develop this innovation straight away.

At first glance, the proximity sensor appears to be nothing special: a thin, elastic layer of silicone onto which black square surfaces are printed, but these...

Im Focus: 3-D scanning with water

3-D shape acquisition using water displacement as the shape sensor for the reconstruction of complex objects

A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique that more completely reconstructs challenging 3D objects. An ancient...

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

The technology with a feel for feelings

12.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA flights gauge summer sea ice melt in the Arctic

25.07.2017 | Earth Sciences

Fungi that evolved to eat wood offer new biomass conversion tool

25.07.2017 | Life Sciences

New map may lead to drug development for complex brain disorders, USC researcher says

25.07.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>