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On the use of small amplitude magnetic anomalies for the improvement of geological models: case studies from Northern Germany

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Aeromagnetic data from reconnaissance surveys are routinely used for geological mapping and modelling, although high-resolution aeromagnetic data are only rarely acquired. In this study, with investigation areas located in NW Germany, two datasets of different resolution are analysed in comparison. The first dataset was acquired in the 1960s at 700 m altitude whereas the second dataset was acquired in 2004/2005 at 320 m terrain clearance. From a qualitative and quantitative analysis it can be concluded that both datasets contain similar information about local geological structures, i. e. even in the short-wavelength range. These local anomalies can contribute to the improvement of local stratigraphic and 3D structural models. The modern dataset reveals a better quality, especially in the short-wavelength range. The presented study is based on numerical data analyses techniques, rock magnetic analyses, and 3D forward modelling. The qualitative analysis of both datasets reveals the same overall pattern of small-sized anomalies with wavelengths below 10 km and amplitudes below 20 nT spread over large parts of the Lower Saxony Basin. They can be associated with known faults as well as subcrops and outcrops of Cretaceous and Jurassic layers. Quantitative analyses in terms of filter techniques enhance these local anomalies, but are partly affected by the limited quality of the older data. Two local sites in the Lower Saxony Basin, that are characterised by short-wavelength anomalies of small amplitudes, are chosen for more sophisticated quantitative studies by means of 3D forward modelling. The first case study results in a 3D model of a salt dome. The observed magnetic anomalies require modifications of the initial stratigraphic model. Rock magnetic investigations of field and core samples help to improve the model. They indicate a weak but measurable magnetisation of Cretaceous and Jurassic rocks in general and slightly increased values in iron-bearing formations (so-called "Trümmererze"). The second case study is located in the vicinity of the Weser Uplands in the southern part of Lower Saxony, hence in an area that was affected by basin inversion. From 3D modelling it is found that thin, magnetised Jurassic layers must be assumed to fit the observed magnetic anomalies.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2016

This article was made available online on August 30, 2016 as a Fast Track article with title: "On the use of small amplitude magnetic anomalies for the improvement of geological models: case studies from Northern Germany".

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  • Zeitschrift der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Geowissenschaften (ZDGG) is an international peer reviewed journal that accepts papers on research and applied topics in the Earth Sciences. It is published online and in print. One volume, consisting of four issues is published annually. The journal has been published by the German Geological Society since its foundation in 1848. It was relaunched in 2005.

    ZDGG invites the submission of English, German and French language papers from all fields of geology, hydrogeology, paleontology, tectonics, sedimentology, engineering geology and of course environmental geology to name a few. The editors of ZDGG also invite suggestions for thematic issues.

    Please note that ZDGG issues from Volume 170 are now available from the publisher's website at
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