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An isostatic residual gravity map of California effectively separates gravity anomalies caused by intracrustal and near-surface density inhomogeneities from the large Bouguer gravity anomalies that result from isostatic compensation of the topography. This regional-residual separation reveals some anomalies that are not easily recognized on the Bouguer gravity map and converts others that are difficult to interpret quantitatively on the basis of the Bouguer gravity data into anomalies that can readily be analyzed. Major residual anomalies in the first group include (1) a gravity anomaly caused by the Gorda plate subducted beneath northern California, and (2) a pattern of linear gravity highs along the western margins and gravity lows in the eastern parts of both the Sierra Nevada and Peninsular Ranges batholiths. Two examples of prominent anomalies in the second group are (1) gravity highs defining a major detached thrust sheet within the western Klamath Mountains, and (2) a gravity low caused by a combination of low-density sedimentary rocks in the Ventura basin and the associated mantle upwarp accompanying isostatic compensation of the basin fill.

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