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Topographic accessibility and the tectonic interpretation of gravity data Normal access

Authors: A. J. Daniel and P. Styles
Journal name: Geophysical Prospecting
Issue: Vol 45, No 6, November 1997 pp. 1013 - 1026
DOI: 10.1046/j.1365-2478.1997.73309.x
Organisations: Wiley
Language: English
Info: Article, PDF ( 1.12Mb )

During recent gravity surveys in Patagonia, we were unable to acquire data on the North Patagonian Icecap, which is completely inaccessible for land surveying. The Icecap is clearly of tectonic significance, but, because of its tectonic history, it is uplifted and rugged, and consequently inaccessible. Therefore the distribution of geophysical observations which can be acquired in a rugged field area is dependent on the tectonic history. This suggests that a tectonic history which is reconstructed from geophysical data may be systematically biased.

We use models of local and flexural isostasy to estimate the gravity errors associated with interpolation across inaccessible topography. The gravity error is largest for Pratt isostasy, where the mass deficit which supports the topography is at relatively shallow depths. The gravity error is least for flexural isostasy, because in this case the inaccessible topography is supported regionally by a mass deficit which extends beyond the inaccessible region.

An analytical flexural interpolation scheme is proposed for interpolation across data gaps associated with inaccessible topography. Flexural theory and Gauss’s theorem are used to predict the gravity anomaly due to the mass excess of the inaccessible topography. We apply this scheme to the North Patagonian Icecap, to demonstrate that flexural interpolation predicts a relative gravity low at the site of the Icecap, which would not be predicted by purely geometrical interpolation schemes.

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