Geotherms from the temperature-depth-constrained solutions of 1-D steady-state heat-flow equation

D. Ravat, P. Morgan, A. R. Lowry

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22 Scopus citations


We use the Curie depth derived from spectral analysis of near-surface magnetic anomaly data to constrain the solution of a one-dimensional (1-D) steady-state heat-flow equation. The method, in addition to anchoring the geotherm at deep levels in the crust, yields the ratio of radiogenic heat production to thermal conductivity. We evaluate the utility of this constraint in two granitic regions in the United States where radiogenic heat production, thermal conductivity, and heat flow are well determined. We also examine the results of this method in the context of previous research in the central Red Sea and coastal Saudi Arabia. In a test case using data from New Hampshire, USA, the steady-state approximation applies, and we calculate heat-production values (~8 μW/m3) that agree with measurements on samples of Conway granite in the region. In the second example, our Wyoming geotherm is hotter by ~200 °C at the Curie depth, possibly reflecting the 15 km thicker crust (as observed from the dense EarthScope USArray stations in comparison to only two earlier refraction profiles) and the consequent greater radiogenic heat production in the lower crust. In the Colorado Front Range, our radiogenic heat-production value is somewhat higher than predicted from previous heatflow studies and may reflect heat advected by intrusions. Our results indicate that basal crustal temperatures in northern Colorado may be close to solidus of rocks of felsic composition, a scenario that is consistent with the geological history of the region and has important implications for crustal rheology. Our estimates of depth-integrated heat production from the crustal columns (25 and 55 mW/m2 Wyoming and Colorado, respectively) also agree well with estimates from previous studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1187-1197
Number of pages11
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 The Authors.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology
  • Stratigraphy


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