Abstract

A gravity inversion algorithm for modeling discrete bodies with nonuniform density distributions is presented. The algorithm selects the maximally uniform model from the family of models which fit the data, ensuring a conservative and unprejudiced estimate of the density variation within the body. The only inputs required by the inversion are the gravity anomaly field and the body shape. Tests using gravity anomalies generated from synthetic bodies confirm that seminorm minimizing inversions successfully represent mass distribution trends but do not reconstruct sharp discontinuities. We apply the algorithm to model the density structure of seamounts. Inversion of the sea-surface gravity field observed over Jasper Seamount suggests the edifice has a low average density of 2.38 g/cm 3 and contains a dense body within its western flank. These results are consistent with seismic, magnetic, and petrologic studies of Jasper Seamount.

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