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A Second Derivative Method of Interpretation of Gravity Anomalies of Anticlines


Summary - A simple method for the interpretation of second derivative gravity anomalies of an anticline is presented. The method utilises only three readily measurable distances, from the origin to the points of half maximum second derivative anomaly, zero anomaly and minimum second derivative anomaly. Charts for the computation of the various parameters are constructed. Introduction
Anticlines, synclines, dipping faults and other structures commonly occur in oil prospecting. But no systematic methods of interpreting the gravity and magnetic anomalies of anticlines and synclines are available in Geophysical literature, though rigorous methods of analysis of anomalies of simple models are available. The construction of any method of interpretation of these bodies is difficult due to the lengthy expressions involved and too many quantities to be interpreted. The interpretation of the gravity anomalies of symmetrical anticlines and synclines seems to be apparently easy, as the comparison of the observed anomalies with the theoretical ones is possible on log-log papers. But such a method is seriously handicapped by the number of parameters to be interpreted and as the anomaly variation with all the parameters cannot be included in a single chart. Thus the problem requires 'a priori' knowledge of approximate values of at least some of the parameters to enable the selection of a proper chart from a given number of charts. The method proposed here enables one to arrive at the approximate values of the various parameters, with whose knowledge accurate values can be obtained by actual matching of the field profile with the theoretical ones. The method at present deals with only the calculations of the second derivative anomalies of anticlines. Results of the other calculations will be published in due course.

Fundamental equations and character&tic distances

The method to be developed in this paper requires only three distances on the second derivative profile of the gravity anomaly. The distances are measured from the i) Geophysics Department, Andhra University, Waltair, India.

Interpretation of Second Derivative Gravity Anomalies


origin and each to the point of half m a x i m u m anomaly, point of zero anomaly and the point of minimum anomaly. They are respectively denoted by x l / 2 , x o and xm. The interpretation by second derivative profile rather than the gravity profile itself has the advantage that the three characteristic distances occur only within a fraction of the total width of the model. Hence interpretation can be carried out even when the gravity observations are available only over a part of the body. The second derivative anomaly of an anticline can be shown to be 62g ~ az = 2 y a sin2 c~[(D - d) 2 + co2] [(2 D + d ) x 2 - d ( D 2 + 0)2)] (x 2 + D 2) [D e -l- (X -}- 09)2] [D 2 + (x - 0))2] (I)

so that the points of zero anomaly are defined by the equation

~o ~ - d(D~ + 0)~)


where all the parameters are as defined in figure 1.


Figure 1

The points of half maximum anomaly are defined by the real roots of the equation x 6 + A x4 + B where
A = dZ + 2 D 2 - 2 0) 2
X2 + C =


B = (D 2 + 0)2)~ + 4 Od(0) ~ + D 2 + Da)

C = - d2(O z + 0)2) 2 .

The distances of the points of the minimum anomaly are obtained by solving the equation X 6 -{- a x 4 --it- b x 2 + c = 0 (4)


B. S. R. Rao, I. V. Radhakrishna Murthy and Y. V. Subba Rao


r / it/


/ ,/

f .........f ...........J ..........,-

Vol. 85, 1971/II)

Interpretation of Second Derivative Gravity Anomalies


2 D 2 -a t- d 2
- -

0.) 2


a =


b = - (2 D ~ - 2 ~o 2 + d ~) x~

= -

(Xo~ + d2)

(D~ +


- ~~ d ~ ( D ~ -

where x o is as defined in equation (2).

n curves



I0 8-0

6.0 5-0 4-0



,s i
I. 0t 0"8 0






Figure 3


B.S.R. Rao, I. V. Radhakrishna Murthy and Y. V. Subba Rao






-I N

Number~ indicate i I0 on Curves va[ue~ os D 1 20
I 30 I 40 i !





Figure 4 The three characteristic distances namely Xo, the distance of the point of zero anomaly from the origin, xm, the distance of the point of minimum anomaly from the origin and xl/2, the distance of the point of half maximum anomaly from the origin, are thus calculated from equations 2, 3 and 4 for various values of Did and the dip angle ~. The characteristic distances are schematically represented in Figs. 3 to 5. In Fig. 2, the ratio of x~/2/Xo is plotted against the ratio xm/xo.

Method of interpretation
All the parameters of the anticline can be calculated with the aid of Figs. 2 to 5. The steps to be followed are simply as follows: (1) Obtain the second derivative profile from the observed gravity profile. The second derivative calculation can easily be made by a simple formula (1) aZg Oz ~ = 2 g(0) - 2 ~(1) where g(0) is the observed gravity at the point of observation and ~(1) is the average of the two gravity anomalies, on either side of the point. (2) From the second derivative profile, thus calculated, obtain the distances Xo, Xm and xl/2(3) Find out the ratios xm/xo and xl/2/Xo. Pick out the two curves in Fig. 2,

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Interpretation of Second Derivative Gravity Anomalies


~~ .... 5 Figure 5


corresponding to xm/xo and X1/2/)C O. The point of intersection of these curves will define ~ and Did. (4) With the interpreted values of c~ and D/d, obtain the ratio xo/d from Fig. 3, which on comparison with Xo obtained in step 2, yields d. Similarly use Figs. 4 and 5 to obtain two more values for d. The three values of d thus obtained must be close to each other. (5) Knowing Did from step 3 and d from 4, D can be obtained. Thus the three parameters c~, D and d completely define the anticline. The density contrast a can be calculated from the maximum gravity anomaly G, by the formula

G=4vtr{ (D-dc~
2 P A G E O P H 85 (1971/11)



B . S . R . Rao, I. V. Radhakrishna Murthy and Y. V. Subba Rao


Some limiting rules for depth and dimensions of the body

The following t h u m b rules are derived f r o m the analysis o f the various distances calculated. T h e y will be often useful in readily determining the a p p r o x i m a t e dimensions o f the b o d y . (1) The h a l f w i d t h o f the second derivative a n o m a l y o f an anticline is a p p r o x i mately equal to the d e p t h d to its t o p for small angles o f the dip o f the flanks. T h e d e p t h thus calculated is always an u n d e r - e s t i m a t e d value. W h e n the dip o f the flanks is less t h a n 20 ~ a n d the ratio D/d is not less t h a n 3, the error in the calculation o f d by this rule will n o t be m o r e t h a n 10~o. W h e n the angle is less t h a n 10 ~ the error will be as low as 3 to 59/0. (2) The distance o f the p o i n t o f 1 m a x i m u m a n o m a l y f r o m the origin is a p p r o x i mately equal to a/3 times the d e p t h to the top. The d a t a concerning the + m a x i m u m points is n o t however presented in this paper. This d e p t h rule is valid for m o r e n u m ber o f cases t h a n the h a l f width rule above. (3) The distance f r o m the origin to the m i n i m u m a n o m a l y is a p p r o x i m a t e l y equal to the h a l f width co o f the base o f the anticline. This rule, j u s t like the h a l f width rule, give excellent results for small angles o f the dip o f the flanks a n d large ratios o f D/d.

Errors in equating an anticlinal structure to a horizontal cylinder

Anticlinal m o d e l s are often a p p r o x i m a t e d as h o r i z o n t a l cylindrical bodies a n d the a n o m a l i e s are accordingly interpreted. But it is presently f o u n d out that such a p p r o x i m a t i o n yields m o s t inaccurate results. The errors o b t a i n e d in the m e a n d e p t h calculations o f anticlines o f 60 ~ dip, in a p p r o x i m a t i n g t h e m to o r d i n a r y h o r i z o n t a l cylinders are b r o u g h t out in Table 1. It can be clearly seen f r o m this table that such a p p r o x i m a tion does n o t p r o v i d e reliable results. The depths estimated are only accurate for small ratios o f D/d, i.e. when the b o d y can be a p p r o x i m a t e d to a line mass. Table I Depth calculated by the formulae of a cylinder


Mean depth of anticline in units ofd

Depth ~ 3.059 x1/2 Depth in units of d 1.41 1.57 1.76 1.92 2.17 2.39 2.54 2.64 % error +6.0 -- 6.0 -- 12.0 --17.6 -- 27.7 -- 44.8 -- 55.2 -- 62.3

Depth = 1.732 x0 Depth in units of d 1.32 1.61 1.87 2.10 2.52 3.20 3.77 4.26 error --0.8 -- 3.6 -- 6.5 --9.9 -- 16.0 -- 26.1 -- 33.5 -- 39.1

1.5 2.0 2.5 3.0 4.0 6.0 8.0 10.0

1.33 1.67 2.00 2.33 3.00 4.33 5.67 7.00

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Interpretation of Second Derivative Gravity Anomalies


A s can be easily seen, the errors in such an a p p r o x i m a t i o n will be m i n i m u m for anticlines o f dip o f 60 ~. Hence the errors for those with dip other t h a n 60 ~ will be m o r e serious. The a n o m a l i e s o f an anticline c a n n o t therefore be i n t e r p r e t e d on the basis o f the d e p t h r u l e s / i n t e r p r e t a t i o n techniques o f a h o r i z o n t a l cylinder. REFERENCE [1] B. S. R. RAO, I. V. RADHAKRISHNAMURTHY, and S. JEEVANANDAREDDY, A Simple FormulaJor the Second Derivative Method of Interpretation, Pure and Applied Geophysics (in press). (Received June 10th 1970)