Forward modeling of gravity data using geostatistically generated subsurface density variations

Geophysics
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Abstract

Using geostatistical models of density variations in the subsurface, constrained by geologic data, forward models of gravity anomalies can be generated by discretizing the subsurface and calculating the cumulative effect of each cell (pixel). The results of such stochastically generated forward gravity anomalies can be compared with the observed gravity anomalies to find density models that match the observed data. These models have an advantage over forward gravity anomalies generated using polygonal bodies of homogeneous density because generating numerous realizations explores a larger region of the solution space. The stochastic modeling can be thought of as dividing the forward model into two components: that due to the shape of each geologic unit and that due to the heterogeneous distribution of density within each geologic unit. The modeling demonstrates that the internally heterogeneous distribution of density within each geologic unit can contribute significantly to the resulting calculated forward gravity anomaly. Furthermore, the stochastic models match observed statistical properties of geologic units, the solution space is more broadly explored by producing a suite of successful models, and the likelihood of a particular conceptual geologic model can be compared. The Vaca Fault near Travis Air Force Base, California, can be successfully modeled as a normal or strike-slip fault, with the normal fault model being slightly more probable. It can also be modeled as a reverse fault, although this structural geologic configuration is highly unlikely given the realizations we explored.



Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Forward modeling of gravity data using geostatistically generated subsurface density variations
Series title Geophysics
DOI 10.1190/GEO2015-0663.1
Volume 81
Issue 5
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher Society of Exploration
Contributing office(s) Geology, Minerals, Energy, and Geophysics Science Center
Description 14 p.
First page G81
Last page G94
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