We have revisited the problem of mapping depth to the Curie temperature isotherm from magnetic anomalies in an attempt to provide a measure of crustal temperatures in the western United States. Such methods are based on the estimation of the depth to the bottom of magnetic sources, which is assumed to correspond to the temperature at which rocks lose their spontaneous magnetization. In this study, we test and apply a method based on the spectral analysis of magnetic anomalies. Early spectral analysis methods assumed that crustal magnetization is a completely uncorrelated function of position. Our method incorporates a more realistic representation where magnetization has a fractal distribution defined by three independent parameters: the depths to the top and bottom of magnetic sources and a fractal parameter related to the geology. The predictions of this model are compatible with radial power spectra obtained from aeromagnetic data in the western United States. Model parameters are mapped by estimating their value within a sliding window swept over the study area. The method works well on synthetic data sets when one of the three parameters is specified in advance. The application of this method to western United States magnetic compilations, assuming a constant fractal parameter, allowed us to detect robust long-wavelength variations in the depth to the bottom of magnetic sources. Depending on the geologic and geophysical context, these features may result from variations in depth to the Curie temperature isotherm, depth to the mantle, depth to the base of volcanic rocks, or geologic settings that affect the value of the fractal parameter. Depth to the bottom of magnetic sources shows several features correlated with prominent heat flow anomalies. It also shows some features absent in the map of heat flow. Independent geophysical and geologic data sets are examined to determine their origin, thereby providing new insights on the thermal and geologic crustal structure of the western United States.
Additional publication details
Mapping Curie temperature depth in the western United States with a fractal model for crustal magnetization