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Applying the Tilt-depth and Tilt-Euler techniques of gravity data to decipher the basement depth in Sichuan Basin, China


The tilt angle (i.e., TDR) provides an efficient way to recognize the horizontal locations of multi-source geological bodies at different depths and inclination angles. The tilt-depth method was initially derived by applying magnetic formulas and used to calculate the depth of magnetic sources. Recently researchers have attempted to extend this method to interpret depths in gravity field data. The tilt-depth method of gravity anomalies (i.e., GTilt-depth) could capture the depth of a buried source effectively, which makes it superior at deciphering the basement relief. Meanwhile, Tilt-Euler deconvolution (i.e., Euler deconvolution of TDR) has been utilized for estimating a source’s position from gridded data automatically, which requires no structural index. However, analytical singularities can be produced when performing inversion with the Tilt-Euler deconvolution owning to the derivatives of TDR being incalculable when the horizontal derivative is zero. The improved Tilt-Euler deconvolution provided an efficient way to eliminate analytical singularities and obtain more stable solutions. The results from the theoretical model show that the GTilt-depth method and improved Tilt-Euler deconvolution could be applied to calculate the buried depths more accurately and effectively. Application of these methods shows that they are able to capture more detailed features, and provide more straightforward and accurate results of depth, than traditional methods. Furthermore, the results obtained from the gravity data in Sichuan Basin show that the basement depth ranges from 3 to 11 km, and 3 to 7 km in the central uplift, which contains a local depression with a depth of 8 km. The basement exhibits a general pattern of “shallow in middle and deep in east and west”, which is consistent with the results revealed by gravity-seismic jointly interpreted profile. This research provides a better indication of the basement structure when interpreting the regional geology in Sichuan Basin.

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Fig. 1
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Fig. 5

Source positions calculated from the traditional Euler deconvolution (b), Tilt-Euler deconvolution (c) and improved Tilt-Euler deconvolution (d)

Fig. 6

modified from Li et al., 2019, Liu et al. 2016). The purple dash represents the study area

Fig. 7
Fig. 8

source locations from the improved Tilt-Euler deconvolution. The purple line represents the seismic profile in Fig. 9

Fig. 9

modified from Li et al., (2019)


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Prof. Cheng Shunyou is thanked for providing the gravity data in Sichuan Basin. Financial support was jointly funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grants 41702210 and 41421002), the Chongqing Research Program of Basic Research and Frontier Technology (Grant cstc2017jcyjAX0307) and the Science and Technology Research Program of Chongqing Municipal Education Commission (Grant KJQN201901535).

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Correspondence to Qing Chen or Xianfeng Tan.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Communicated by Prof. Teresa Grabowska (ASSOCIATE EDITOR) / Prof. Michał Malinowski (CO-EDITOR-IN-CHIEF).

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Chen, Q., Dong, Y., Tan, X. et al. Applying the Tilt-depth and Tilt-Euler techniques of gravity data to decipher the basement depth in Sichuan Basin, China. Acta Geophys. (2021).

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  • Tilt angle
  • Euler deconvolution
  • Depth estimation
  • Sichuan Basin
  • Gravity anomaly