Three different least-squares approaches are developed to determine, successively, the depth, shape (shape factor), and amplitude coefficient related to the radius and density contrast of a buried structure from the residual gravity anomaly. By defining the anomaly value g(max) at the origin on the profile, the problem of depth determination is transformed into the problem of solving a nonlinear equation, f(z) = 0. Formulas are derived for spheres and cylinders. Knowing the depth and applying the least-squares method, the shape factor and the amplitude coefficient are determined using two simple linear equations. In this way, the depth, shape, and amplitude coefficient are determined individually from all observed gravity data. A procedure is developed for automated interpretation of gravity anomalies attributable to simple geometrical causative sources. The method is applied to synthetic data with and without random errors. In all the cases examined, the maximum error in depth, shape, and amplitude coefficient is 3%, 1.5%, and 7%, respectively. Finally, the method is tested on a field example from the United States, and the depth and shape obtained by the present method are compared with those obtained from drilling and seismic information and with those published in the literature.

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