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Lineaments derived from analysis of linear features mapped from Landsat images of the Four Corners region of the Southwestern United States

January 1, 1982

Linear features are relatively short, distinct, non-cultural linear elements mappable on Landsat multispectral scanner images (MSS). Most linear features are related to local topographic features, such as cliffs, slope breaks, narrow ridges, and stream valley segments that are interpreted as reflecting directed aspects of local geologic structure including faults, zones of fracturing (joints), and the strike of tilted beds.

6,050 linear features were mapped on computer-enhanced Landsat MSS images of 11 Landsat scenes covering an area from the Rio Grande rift zone on the east to the Grand Canyon on the west and from the San Juan Mountains, Colorado, on the north to the Mogollon Rim on the south. Computer-aided statistical analysis of the linear feature data revealed 5 statistically important trend intervals: 1.) N. 10W.-N.16E., 2.) N.35-72E., 3.) N.33-59W., 4.) N. 74-83W., and 5.) N.89-9-W. and N. 89-90E. Subsequent analysis of the distribution of the linear features indicated that only the first three trend intervals are of regional geologic significance. Computer-generated maps of the linear features in each important trend interval were prepared, as well as contour maps showing the relative concentrations of linear features in each trend interval. These maps were then analyzed for patterns suggestive of possible regional tectonic lines.

20 possible tectonic lines, or lineaments, were interpreted from the maps. One lineament is defined by an obvious change in overall linear feature concentrations along a northwest-trending line cutting across northeastern Arizona. Linear features are abundant northeast of the line and relatively scarce to the southwest. The remaining 19 lineaments represent the axes of clusters of parallel linear features elongated in the direction of the linear feature trends. Most of these lineaments mark previously known structural zones controlled by linear features in the Precambrian basement or show newly recognized relationships to geological and/or geophysical patterns that suggest probable influence by buried basement features. The remaining few lineaments are not strongly correlative with geological or geophysical patterns, but on the basis of existing data they cannot be dismissed as being possible expressions of basement features.

Publication Year 1982
Title Lineaments derived from analysis of linear features mapped from Landsat images of the Four Corners region of the Southwestern United States
DOI 10.3133/ofr82849
Authors Daniel H. Knepper
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Open-File Report
Series Number 82-849
Index ID ofr82849
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse