Interpretation of tensor gravity data using an adaptive tilt angle method

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Abstract

Full Tensor Gravity Gradiometry (FTG) data are routinely used in exploration programmes to evaluate and explore geological complexities hosting hydrocarbon and mineral resources. FTG data are typically used to map a host structure and locate target responses of interest using a myriad of imaging techniques. Identified anomalies of interest are then examined using 2D and 3D forward and inverse modelling methods for depth estimation. However, such methods tend to be time consuming and reliant on an independent constraint for clarification. This paper presents a semi-automatic method to interpret FTG data using an adaptive tilt angle approach. The present method uses only the three vertical tensor components of the FTG data (Tzx, Tzy and Tzz) with a scale value that is related to the nature of the source (point anomaly or linear anomaly). With this adaptation, it is possible to estimate the location and depth of simple buried gravity sources such as point masses, line masses and vertical and horizontal thin sheets, provided that these sources exist in isolation and that the FTG data have been sufficiently filtered to minimize the influence of noise. Computation times are fast, producing plausible results of single solution depth estimates that relate directly to anomalies. For thick sheets, the method can resolve the thickness of these layers assuming the depth to the top is known from drilling or other independent geophysical data. We demonstrate the practical utility of the method using examples of FTG data acquired over the Vinton Salt Dome, Louisiana, USA and basalt flows in the Faeroe-Shetland Basin, UK. A major benefit of the method is the ability to quickly construct depth maps. Such results are used to produce best estimate initial depth to source maps that can act as initial models for any detailed quantitative modelling exercises using 2D/3D forward/inverse modelling techniques.

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