Determination of depths to centroids of three-dimensional sources of potential-field anomalies with examples from environmental and geologic applications

D. Ravat, Patrick T. Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


A method is developed for determining the depth to the centroid (the geometric center) of 'semi-compact' sources. The method, called the anomaly attenuation rate (AAR) method, involves computing radial averages of AARs with increasing distances from a range of assumed source centers. For well-isolated magnetic anomalies from 'semi-compact' sources, the theoretical AARs range from ~ 2 (close to the sources) to ~ 3 (in the far-field region); the corresponding theoretical range of AARs for gravity anomalies is ~ 1 to ~ 2. When the estimated source centroid is incorrect, the AARs either exceed or fall short of the theoretical values. the levelling-off of the far-field AARs near their theoretical maximum values indicates the upper (deeper) bound of the centroid location. Similarly, near-field AARs lower than the theoretical minimum indicate the lower (shallower) bound of the centroid location. It is not always possible to determine usable upper and lower bounds of the centroids because the method depends on characteristics of sources/anomalies and the noise level of the data. For the environmental magnetic examples considered in this study, the determined deeper bounds were within 4% of the true centroid-to-observation distance. For the case of the gravity anomaly from the Bloomfield Pluton, Missouri, USA, determination of only the shallower bound of the centroid location (~ 7 km) was possible. This estimate agrees closely with the centroid of a previously determined three-dimensional model of the Bloomfield Pluton. For satellite magnetic anomalies, the method is appropriate only for high-amplitude, near-circular anomalies due to the inherent low signal-to-noise ratio of satellite magnetic anomalies. Model studies indicate that the AAR method is able to place depths witin ±20-30 km of actual center locations from a 400-km observation altitude. thus, the method may be able to discriminate between upper crustal, lower crustal, and mantle magnetic sources. the results from the prominent Kentucky anomaly are relatively well-resolved (centroid depth ~ 40-50 km). These depths may indicate that magnetic anomalies from the near-surface Kursk iron formations (a known contributor) and deep crustal magnetic sources could combine to form the Kursk Magsat anomaly.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)191-208
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Applied Geophysics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 1998

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank J.J. Frawley (Herring Bay Geophysics) for discussions during this study and M. Purucker for reviewing the final draft. We also thank the Editor and an anonymous reviewer for helpful comments. Some of the illustrations were created using GMT software ( Wessel and Smith, 1995 ). This study was partly supported by NASA Contract NCC 5-70. We are grateful for this support.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics


Dive into the research topics of 'Determination of depths to centroids of three-dimensional sources of potential-field anomalies with examples from environmental and geologic applications'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this