A gravity study of the northern part of the Arctic National Wildlife Range, Alaska

Bulletin 1440

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Interpretation of all publicly available onshore gravity data provides a basis for outlining regional elements of the basement and overlying structure in the northern part of the Arctic National Wildlife Range. Major post-Carboniferous sedimentary basins whose centers lie offshore on the Beaufort Shelf extend onshore in the northern part of the study area. There is strong evidence that dense basement rocks beneath these onshore extensions rise to relatively shallow depths along the northeast Alaskan coast. Geologic studies and interpretation of the gravity data indicate that the gross structural and stratigraphic framework of this area is similar to that of the Prudhoe Bay region to the west.

A high potential for petroleum accumulation in the Wildlife Range is indicated by the surface presence of oil seeps, oil sands, and outcrops of reservoir and source rocks along the southern margins of the onshore basinal areas. Present data suggest that the greatest potential for onshore accumulations of hydrocarbons lies in the area south and east of Barter Island and that possibilities exist there for commercially substantial reserves. The potential of this area cannot be fully assessed, however, until the subsurface extent of several major unconformities is known. Unfortunately, gravity data alone are of little use in such determinations.

South of the mountain front, large granitic intrusions are marked by a sharply defined gravity minimum. The subsurface distribution of these bodies could probably be mapped by detailed gravity surveys. Detailed aeromagnetic surveys should serve equally well for such a purpose.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
A gravity study of the northern part of the Arctic National Wildlife Range, Alaska
Series title:
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Government Printing Office
Publisher location:
Washington, D.C.
Report: iii, 21 p.; 3 Plates: 46.50 x 22.00 inches or smaller
United States
Other Geospatial:
Arctic National Wildlife Range