ABSTRACT

The estimation of the structural index and of the depth to the source is the main task of many popular methods used to analyze potential field data, such as Euler deconvolution. However, these estimates are unstable even in the presence of a weak amount of noise, and Euler deconvolution of noisy data leads to an underestimation of structural index and depth. We have studied how the structural index and depth estimates are affected by applying low-pass filtering to the data. Physically based low-pass filters, such as upward continuation and integration, have been shown to be the best choice over a range of altitudes (upward continuation) or orders (integration filters), mainly because their outputs have a well-defined physical meaning. In contrast, mathematical low-pass filters require that the filter parameters be tuned carefully by means of several trial tests to produce optimally smoothed fields. The C-norm criterion is a reliable strategy to produce a stabilized vertical derivative, and we discourage Butterworth filters because they tend to a vertical integral filter, for a high cutoff wavenumber, thus complicating the interpretation of the estimated structural index. We found that the estimated structural index and depth to source increase proportionally with the amount of smoothing, unless in the case of overfiltering. In that case, the severe distortion of the original field may cause a decrease of the estimated structural index and depth to source.

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