Petrologic and Mineral Physics Database for Use with the U.S. Geological Survey National Crustal Model

Open-File Report 2019-1035
By:  and 



We present a petrologic and mineral physics database as part of the U.S. Geological Survey National Crustal Model (NCM). Each of 209 geologic units, 134 of which are currently part of the geologic framework within the NCM, was assigned a mineralogical composition according to generalized classifications with some refinement for specific geologic formations. This report is concerned with the petrology and mineral physics of each geologic unit within the NCM, which control the physical behavior of the solid mineral matrix within the rock.

This mineral physics database builds on the work of Abers and Hacker to include 13 minerals specific to continental rock types. We explored the effect of this database on zero-porosity anharmonic P- and S-wave rock velocities and density relative to a well-used empirical study of relations between wavespeeds and density by Brocher. We found that empirical relations between P-wave velocity and S-wave velocity or density do well on average but can differ from mineral physics calculations by up to 15 percent in S-wave velocity and almost 40 percent in density. This is consistent with Brocher’s study where he obtained similar results for in situ measurements and laboratory rock specimens.

Additionally, the substantial presence of quartz in many rocks plays a major role in crustal seismic velocities and density due to quartz’s αβ phase transition, which can interfere with these empirical relationships. With increasing depth, quartz P-wave velocity can suddenly jump by 15 percent accompanied by little change in S-wave velocity and a modest decrease in density. Empirical relations based on observed P-wave velocity where P-wave velocity is positively correlated with S-wave velocity and density would then significantly overestimate both S-wave velocity and density.

Suggested Citation

Sowers, T., and Boyd, O.S., 2019, Petrologic and mineral physics database for use with the U.S. Geological Survey National Crustal Model: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2019–1035, 17 p.,

ISSN: 2331-1258 (online)

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Petrology
  • Mineral Physics
  • Mineral and Rock Seismic Velocity and Density
  • Conclusion
  • References Cited
  • Appendix 1. Methods for Calculating Mineral Assemblages for Plutonic Igneous Rocks
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Petrologic and mineral physics database for use with the U.S. Geological Survey National Crustal Model
Series title Open-File Report
Series number 2019-1035
DOI 10.3133/ofr20191035
Year Published 2019
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Earthquake Science Center, Geologic Hazards Science Center
Description 17 p.
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details