Resolution test of GOCE satellite data applied to density anomalies at crustal and upper mantle levels


  • M. PERAL Group of dynamics of the lithosphere, Institute of Earth Sciences Jaume Almera, ICTJA-CSIC C/ Lluís Solé i Sabarís s/n, 08028 Barcelona, Spain.
  • M. FERNÀNDEZ Group of dynamics of the lithosphere, Institute of Earth Sciences Jaume Almera, ICTJA-CSIC C/ Lluís Solé i Sabarís s/n, 08028 Barcelona, Spain.
  • M. TORNÉ Group of dynamics of the lithosphere, Institute of Earth Sciences Jaume Almera, ICTJA-CSIC C/ Lluís Solé i Sabarís s/n, 08028 Barcelona, Spain.



GOCE, gravity gradients, geological structures resolution, NW Iberian margin


The Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE) satellite mission was devised by the European Space Agency to study the Earth’s gravity field with an unprecedented accuracy using gravity gradient data. The goal of this study is to analyze the resolution in terms of size, burial depth and density contrast of anomalous bodies related to geological structures that can be identified from GOCE data. A parametric study is performed by calculating the gravity gradients associated with rectangular prisms with fixed aspect ratio of 9:3:1 and varying the size, burial depth, and density contrast, selecting those structures showing amplitudes and wavelength variations comparable to the accuracy of GOCE data. Results show that the minimum size for crustal anomalies to be resolved for the vertical component of the gravity gradient is 22.5x7.5x2.5km for a Δρ=500kg/m3 , burial depth of 0km, and at computation height of 255km. To generate a sufficient signal in amplitude and wavelength in all the components, the size of the anomalous body is 270x90x30km. For a body with Δρ=50kg/m3 and 0km burial depth a minimum size of 41.4x13.8x4.6km is required for the vertical component at a computation height of 255km. In addition, the application to the 3D case of a passive continental margin which broadly resembles the crustal structure of the NW-Iberia shows that the signal of all gravity gradient components is dominated by the crustal thinning associated with the passive continental margins and the corresponding isostatic response.


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