An aeromagnetic survey of a 6000-km2 area in central Nevada has been complied by the U.S. Geological Survey. An interpretation of the aeromagnetic data is developed to establish relations between near-surface geological features and structure extending to intermediate depths in the crust.

A three-dimensional distribution of magnetized material is described which would reproduce approximately the observed aeromagnetic anomalies. Anomaly sources extend from the surface to depths exceeding 15 km and require values of magnetic moment per unit volume averaging more than 2000 × 10−6 (cgs).

Magnetic anomaly lineations were analyzed by two methods. The first involves digital fan filtering and subsequent autocovariance computations. This method is sensitive to amplitude of linear anomalies, and indicated a dominant north-northwest trend with approximately 80 percent of the anomaly trend power in an azimuth range of northwest to northeast. The second method involves preparation of rosettes from measured lengths and azimuths of lineations indicated by noses and flexures on the contoured map. This method is not sensitive to anomaly amplitude. The dominant N. 10°E. trend determined in this way is indicative of the effect of near-surface geological structure on the magnetic field.

The dominant north-northwest-trending zone of magnetic anomalies is located along an alinement of windows through the Roberts Mountains thrust fault. This suggests that elongate doming of the Paleozoic sedimentary rocks associated with the thrust may be related to emplacement of magnetic anomaly source material, and implies that this has been a zone of recurring tectonic activity since late Paleozoic time. Analysis of stresses possibly associated with forceful injection of magnetic anomaly sources and possible shear deformation along this north-northwest-trending zone suggests that these factors may have had a secondary influence on azimuths of high-angle faults and dikes.

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