Regional geophysics of western Utah and eastern Nevada, with emphasis on the Confusion Range

By: , and 



As part of a long term geologic and hydrologic study of several regional groundwater flow systems in western Utah and eastern Nevada, the U.S. Geological Survey was contracted by the Southern Nevada Water Authority to provide geophysical data. The primary object of these data was to enable construction of the geological framework of the flow systems. The main new geophysical data gathered during the study were gravity observations, and existing aeromagnetic data were also compiled. These data resulted in regional maps of the isostatic gravity and aeromagnetic fields of the area. The isostatic gravity map shows a north-south grain to most of the area, which was imparted by post-20 Ma basin-range tectonism; whereas the aeromagnetic map shows an east-west grain to the area, imparted by Eocene to lower Miocene calc-alkaline calderas and source intrusions. To de-emphasize surface and near-surface features and to gain greater insight into contributions from deeper sources, the isostatic gravity anomalies were upward continued by 3 km and the aeromagnetic data were transformed to their magnetic potential ("pseudogravity"). Identification of maxima of the horizontal gradients in the gravity and magnetic-potential data helped define deep-seated crustal blocks that are characterized by major changes in density and magnetization. Maps showing these maxima were useful in defining large faults, especially range-bounding faults, and margins of igneous bodies and calderas. A gravity inversion method was used to separate the isostatic residual anomaly into pre-Cenozoic basement and young basin fill. Inasmuch as the primary aquifer in the area is sedimentary basin fill, this method is especially valuable for hydrogeologic analyses because it estimates the thickness of the fill. As befits its name, the geology of the Confusion Range of Utah has been a point of contention for many years, so we looked at it in greater detail in the course of our regional study. The northern part of the range is underlain by a large gravity high, which continues south through the Conger Range, Burbank Hills, and northern Mountain Home Range. This is the "structural trough" reported in the literature that was mapped as the axial part of a Sevier synclinorium and contains the maximum thickness (7 km) of high-density carbonates in the area, thus the largest high gravity anomaly.

Study Area

Publication type Book
Title Regional geophysics of western Utah and eastern Nevada, with emphasis on the Confusion Range
Volume 45
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher Utah Geological Association
Contributing office(s) Geology, Minerals, Energy, and Geophysics Science Center
Description 13 p.
First page 147
Last page 166
Country United States
State Utah
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details