Interpretation of gravity data warrants uncertainty estimation because of its inherent nonuniqueness. Although the uncertainties in model parameters cannot be completely reduced, they can aid in the meaningful interpretation of results. Here we have employed a simulated annealing (SA)–based technique in the inversion of gravity data to derive multilayered earth models consisting of two and three dimensional bodies. In our approach, we assume that the density contrast is known, and we solve for the coordinates or shapes of the causative bodies, resulting in a nonlinear inverse problem. We attempt to sample the model space extensively so as to estimate several equally likely models. We then use all the models sampled by SA to construct an approximate, marginal posterior probability density function (PPD) in model space and several orders of moments.

The correlation matrix clearly shows the interdependence of different model parameters and the corresponding trade-offs. Such correlation plots are used to study the effect of a priori information in reducing the uncertainty in the solutions. We also investigate the use of derivative information to obtain better depth resolution and to reduce underlying uncertainties.

We applied the technique on two synthetic data sets and an airborne-gravity data set collected over Lake Vostok, East Antarctica, for which a priori constraints were derived from available seismic and radar profiles. The inversion results produced depths of the lake in the survey area along with the thickness of sediments. The resulting uncertainties are interpreted in terms of the experimental geometry and data error.

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