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3-D Modeling of the Duluth Complex from geophysical data

May 31, 2021

The Mesoproterozoic Duluth Complex in northeastern Minnesota is one of the major plutonic components of the Midcontinent Rift System and hosts a variety of copper-nickel sulfide and platinum-group element deposits. The Duluth Complex is composed of a series of individual mafic and felsic intrusions emplaced 1110-1098 Ma within Paleoproterozoic sedimentary rocks of the Animikie basin and volcanic flows of the Midcontinent Rift. Prior work has included 2-D modeling and qualitative geologic interpretations of gravity and magnetic data (e.g., Chandler, 1990; Chandler and Ferderer, 1989), much of which is still preliminary (V. Chandler, written commun., 2020). Three-dimensional modeling has been limited, with only one 3-D model created using Bouguer gravity data constrained by seismic-reflection interpretations as part of a PhD thesis (Allen, 1994). Given the complex geology of the area, 3-D modeling is useful for providing a complete picture of the variable densities, susceptibilities, and electrical resistivities throughout the Duluth Complex and associated volcanic rocks as well as their depth extent beneath sedimentary cover. Models of these geophysical properties at depth enable more accurate geologic mapping in the subsurface which can lead to an improved understanding of the formation history of the Duluth Complex.
In this study, we use aeromagnetic data acquired between 1979-1991 (Chandler, 2007), Bouguer gravity data collected since 1950 (Chandler and Lively, 2019), and magnetotelluric data collected in 2019 to create new 2-D and 3-D geophysical models of the Duluth Complex constrained by seismic reflection, geologic, and rock property data. An inversion of the Bouguer gravity data for thickness of the Duluth Complex using constant densities of 3110 kg/m3 and 2670 kg/m3 for the Duluth Complex and surrounding crustal rocks, respectively, results in thicknesses ranging from ~3-28 km for the Duluth Complex and related intrusions and volcanic rocks (Figure 1A). A 3-D model of the magnetotelluric data reveals low resistivity anomalies at ~5-10 km depth below the northern margin of the Duluth Complex and below the Greenwood Lake intrusion (Figure 1B). We expect to encounter low resistivities at depth associated with the Paleoproterozoic Animikie basin, which makes up the floor of the Duluth Complex, and therefore interpret these anomalies as either the base of the complex or as fragments of Animikie sediments interfingered with igneous intrusive rocks. Finally, 3-D voxel models of density and susceptibility illuminate the subsurface distribution of rock properties below the Duluth Complex which, in combination with resistivity and thickness models, can be used to create a 3-D geologic map of this area.

Publication Year 2021
Title 3-D Modeling of the Duluth Complex from geophysical data
Authors Dana E. Peterson, Paul A. Bedrosian, Carol A. Finn
Publication Type Conference Paper
Publication Subtype Conference Paper
Index ID 70219918
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Geology, Geophysics, and Geochemistry Science Center