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What lies beneath: geophysical mapping of a concealed Precambrian intrusive complex along the Iowa–Minnesota border

May 1, 2015

Large-amplitude gravity and magnetic highs over northeast Iowa are interpreted to reflect a buried intrusive complex composed of mafic–ultramafic rocks, the northeast Iowa intrusive complex (NEIIC), intruding Yavapai province (1.8–1.72 Ga) rocks. The age of the complex is unproven, although it has been considered to be Keweenawan (∼1.1 Ga). Because only four boreholes reach the complex, which is covered by 200–700 m of Paleozoic sedimentary rocks, geophysical methods are critical to developing a better understanding of the nature and mineral resource potential of the NEIIC. Lithologic and cross-cutting relations interpreted from high-resolution aeromagnetic and airborne gravity gradient data are presented in the form of a preliminary geologic map of the basement Precambrian rocks. Numerous magnetic anomalies are coincident with airborne gravity gradient (AGG) highs, indicating widespread strongly magnetized and dense rocks of likely mafic–ultramafic composition. A Yavapai-age metagabbro unit is interpreted to be part of a layered intrusion with subvertical dip. Another presumed Yavapai unit has low density and weak magnetization, observations consistent with felsic plutons. Northeast-trending, linear magnetic lows are interpreted to reflect reversely magnetized diabase dikes and have properties consistent with Keweenawan rocks. The interpreted dikes are cut in places by normally magnetized mafic–ultramafic rocks, suggesting that the latter represent younger Keweenawan rocks. Distinctive horseshoe-shaped magnetic and AGG highs correspond with a known gabbro, and surround rocks with weaker magnetization and lower density. Here, informally called the Decorah complex, the source body has notable geophysical similarities to Keweenawan alkaline ring complexes, such as the Coldwell and Killala Lake complexes, and Mesoproterozoic anorogenic complexes, such as the Kiglapait, Hettasch, and Voisey’s Bay intrusions in Labrador. Results presented here suggest that much of the NEIIC is composed of such complexes, and broadly speaking, may be a discontinuous group of several intrusive bodies. Most units are cut by suspected northwest-trending faults imaged as magnetic lineaments, and one produces apparent sinistral fault separation of a dike in the eastern part of the survey area. The location, trend, and apparent sinistral sense of motion are consistent with the suspected faults being part of the Belle Plaine fault zone, a complex transform fault zone within the Midcontinent rift system that is here proposed to correspond with a major structural discontinuity.

Publication Year 2015
Title What lies beneath: geophysical mapping of a concealed Precambrian intrusive complex along the Iowa–Minnesota border
DOI 10.1139/cjes-2014-0178
Authors Benjamin J. Drenth, Raymond R. Anderson, Klaus J. Schulz, Joshua M. Feinberg, Val W. Chandler, William F. Cannon
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences
Index ID 70189102
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Crustal Geophysics and Geochemistry Science Center