Mapping the Extent of the Lovejoy Basalt Beneath the Sacramento Valley, CA, Using Aeromagnetic Data
Wednesday, 17 December 2014
The Lovejoy Basalt is a distinctive Miocene (~16 Ma) unit that erupted from Thompson Peak in the northeast Sierra Nevada, flowed southwest across the Sierra Nevada into the Sacramento Valley. It crops out in a few places in Sacramento Valley: (1) near Chico and Oroville on the east side of the valley, (2) Orland Buttes on the west side, and (3) Putnam Peak, some 250 km southwest of Thompson Peak. The basalt is also encountered in drill holes, but its extent is not entirely known. The Lovejoy Basalt is strongly magnetic and, in general, reversely magnetized, making it an excellent target for aeromagnetic mapping. Recently acquired aeromagnetic data (flight line spacing 800 m at an altitude of 240 m) indicate a characteristic, sinuous, short-wavelength magnetic pattern associated with outcrops and known subcrops of Lovejoy Basalt. Filtering of these data to enhance negative, short-wavelength anomalies defines two large bands of negative anomalies that trend southwest of Chico and Oroville and appear to coalesce about 25 km north of Sutter Buttes. Another band of negative anomalies extends north of the junction roughly along the Sacramento River 40 km to Deer Creek. The anomalies become more subdued to the north, suggesting that the Lovejoy thins to the north. Aeromagnetic data also indicate a large subcrop of Lovejoy Basalt that extends 25 km north-northeast from exposures at Orland Buttes. Driller logs from gas and water wells confirm our mapping of Lovejoy within these areas. The sinuous magnetic lows are not continuous south of Sutter Buttes, but form isolated patches that are aligned in a north-south direction south of the concealed Colusa Dome to Putnam Peak and an east-west, 20-km-long band about 15 km south of Sutter Buttes. Other reversed anomalies in the Sacramento Valley coincide with volcanic necks in the Sutter Buttes and Colusa Dome; these produce semicircular anomalies that are distinct from those caused by the Lovejoy Basalt.