We show that potential fields enjoy valuable properties when they are scaled by specific power laws of the altitude. We describe the theory for the gravity field, the magnetic field, and their derivatives of any order and propose a method, called here Depth from Extreme Points (DEXP), to interpret any potential field. The DEXP method allows estimates of source depths, density, and structural index from the extreme points of a 3D field scaled according to specific power laws of the altitude. Depths to sources are obtained from the position of the extreme points of the scaled field, and the excess mass (or dipole moment) is obtained from the scaled field values. Although the scaling laws are theoretically derived for sources such as poles, dipoles, lines of poles, and lines of dipoles, we give also criteria to estimate the correct scaling law directly from the data. The scaling exponent of such laws is shown to be related to the structural index involved in Euler Deconvolution theory. The method is fast and stable because it takes advantage of the regular behavior of potential field data versus the altitude z. As a result of stability, the DEXP method may be applied to anomalies with rather low SNRs. Also stable are DEXP applications to vertical and horizontal derivatives of a Newtonian potential of various orders in which we use theoretically determined scaling functions for each order of a derivative. This helps to reduce mutual interference effects and to obtain meaningful representations of the distribution of sources versus depth, with no prefiltering. The DEXP method does not require that magnetic anomalies to be reduced to the pole, and meaningful results are obtained by processing its analytical signal. Application to different cases of either synthetic or real data shows its applicability to any type of potential field investigation, including geological, petroleum, mining, archeological, and environmental studies.

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