Abstract

High-resolution aeromagnetic surveys are now an industry standard and they commonly detect anomalies that are attributed to faults within sedimentary basins. However, detailed studies identifying geologic sources of magnetic anomalies in sedimentary environments are rare in the literature. Opportunities to study these sources have come from well-exposed sedimentary basins of the Rio Grande rift in New Mexico and Colorado. High-resolution aeromagnetic data from these areas reveal numerous, curvilinear, low-amplitude (2–15 nT at 100-m terrain clearance) anomalies that consistently correspond to intrasedimentary normal faults (Figure 1). Detailed geophysical and rock-property studies provide evidence for the magnetic sources at several exposures of these faults in the central Rio Grande rift (summarized in Grauch and Hudson, 2007, and Hudson et al., 2008). A key result is that the aeromagnetic anomalies arise from the juxtaposition of magnetically differing strata at the faults as opposed to chemical processes acting at the fault zone. The studies also provide (1) guidelines for understanding and estimating the geophysical parameters controlling aeromagnetic anomalies at faulted strata (Grauch and Hudson), and (2) observations on key geologic factors that are favorable for developing similar sedimentary sources of aeromagnetic anomalies elsewhere (Hudson et al.).

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