Articles | Volume 7, issue 3
Research article
09 May 2016
Research article |  | 09 May 2016

Geopotential field anomalies and regional tectonic features – two case studies: southern Africa and Germany

Monika Korte and Mioara Mandea

Abstract. Maps of magnetic and gravity field anomalies provide information about physical properties of the Earth's crust and upper mantle, helpful in understanding geological conditions and tectonic structures. Depending on data availability, whether from the ground, airborne, or from satellites, potential field anomaly maps contain information on different ranges of spatial wavelengths, roughly corresponding to sources at different depths. Focussing on magnetic data, we compare amplitudes and characteristics of anomalies from maps based on various available data and as measured at geomagnetic repeat stations. Two cases are investigated: southern Africa, characterized by geologically old cratons and strong magnetic anomalies, and the smaller region of Germany with much younger crust and weaker anomalies. Estimating lithospheric magnetic anomaly values from the ground stations' time series (repeat station crustal biases) reveals magnetospheric field contributions causing time-varying offsets of several nT in the results. Similar influences might be one source of discrepancy when merging anomaly maps from different epochs. Moreover, we take advantage of recently developed satellite potential field models and compare magnetic and gravity gradient anomalies of  ∼  200 km resolution. Density and magnetization represent independent rock properties and thus provide complementary information on compositional and structural changes. Comparing short- and long-wavelength anomalies and the correlation of rather large-scale magnetic and gravity anomalies, and relating them to known lithospheric structures, we generally find a better agreement in the southern African region than the German region. This probably indicates stronger concordance between near-surface (down to at most a few km) and deeper (several kilometres down to Curie depth) structures in the former area, which can be seen to agree with a thicker lithosphere and a lower heat flux reported in the literature for the southern African region.

Short summary
We investigated characteristics of magnetic anomalies over southern Africa (South Africa, Namibia, and Botswana) and Germany on different scales and also compared them to gravity gradient anomalies. Such anomalies provide information relevant to understanding geological and tectonic structures. Our results indicate a better agreement between anomalies caused by shallow and deeper structures in the southern African area than in the German area.