Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Aeromagnetic survey map of Sacramento Valley, California

October 2, 2015

Three aeromagnetic surveys were flown to improve understanding of the geology and structure in the Sacramento Valley. The resulting data serve as a basis for geophysical interpretations, and support geological mapping, water and mineral resource investigations, and other topical studies. Local spatial variations in the Earth's magnetic field (evident as anomalies on aeromagnetic maps) reflect the distribution of magnetic minerals, primarily magnetite, in the underlying rocks. In many cases the volume content of magnetic minerals can be related to rock type, and abrupt spatial changes in the amount of magnetic minerals commonly mark lithologic or structural boundaries. Bodies of serpentinite and other mafic and ultramafic rocks tend to produce the most intense positive magnetic anomalies (for example, in the northwest part of the map). These rock types are the inferred sources, concealed beneath weakly magnetic, valley-fill deposits, of the most prominent magnetic features in the map area, the magnetic highs that extend along the valley axis. Cenozoic volcanic rocks are also an important source of magnetic anomalies and coincide with short-wavelength anomalies that can be either positive (strong central positive anomaly flanked by lower-amplitude negative anomalies) or negative (strong central negative anomaly flanked by lower-amplitude positive anomalies), reflecting the contribution of remanent magnetization. Rocks with more felsic compositions or even some sedimentary units also can cause measurable magnetic anomalies. For example, the long, linear, narrow north-trending anomalies (with amplitudes of <50 nanoteslas [nT]) along the western margin of the valley coincide with exposures of the Mesozoic Great Valley sequence. Note that isolated, short-wavelength anomalies, such as those in the city of Sacramento and along some of the major roads, are caused by manmade features.

Publication Year 2015
Title Aeromagnetic survey map of Sacramento Valley, California
DOI 10.3133/ofr20151186
Authors Victoria E. Langenheim
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Open-File Report
Series Number 2015-1186
Index ID ofr20151186
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Geology, Minerals, Energy, and Geophysics Science Center