We have developed a fast 3D regularized magnetic inversion algorithm for depth-to-basement estimation based on an efficient way to compute the total-field anomaly produced by an arbitrary interface separating nonmagnetic sediments from a magnetic basement. We approximate the basement layer by a grid of 3D vertical prisms juxtaposed in the horizontal directions, in which the prisms’ tops represent the depths to the magnetic basement. To compute the total-field anomaly produced by the basement relief, the 3D integral of the total-field anomaly of a prism is simplified by a 1D integral along the prism thickness, which in turn is multiplied by the horizontal area of the prism. The 1D integral is calculated numerically using the Gauss-Legendre quadrature produced by dipoles located along the vertical axis passing through the prism center. This new magnetic forward modeling overcomes one of the main drawbacks of the nonlinear inverse problem for estimating the basement depths from magnetic data: the intense computational cost to calculate the total-field anomaly of prisms. The new sensitivity matrix is simpler and computationally faster than the one using classic magnetic forward modeling based on the 3D integrals of a set of prisms that parameterize the earth’s subsurface. To speed up the inversion at each iteration, we used the Gauss-Newton approximation for the Hessian matrix keeping the main diagonal only and adding the first-order Tikhonov regularization function. The large sparseness of the Hessian matrix allows us to construct and solve a linear system iteratively that is faster and demands less memory than the classic nonlinear inversion with prism-based modeling using 3D integrals. We successfully inverted the total-field anomaly of a simulated smoothing basement relief with a constant magnetization vector. Tests on field data from a portion of the Pará-Maranhão Basin, Brazil, retrieved a first depth-to-basement estimate that was geologically plausible.

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