AbstractsEarth & Environmental Science

Electrical conductivity experiments on carbon-rich Karoo shales and forward modelling of aeromagnetic data across the Beattie Anomaly

by Thomas Cameron Branch

Institution: Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University
Department: Faculty of Science
Degree: MSc
Year: 2014
Keywords: Earth sciences  – South Africa  – Karoo; Geology  – South Africa  – Karoo
Record ID: 1431369
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10948/d1014544


The Beattie Magnetic Anomaly is the world’s longest terrestrial magnetic anomaly with a strike length of over 1000 km and a wavelength in excess of 100 km. Collinear with this is a large belt of elevated crustal conductivities called the Southern Cape Conductive Belt. Historical crustal interpretations proposed a common source of serpentinized ophiolite as an explanation for both the anomalous crustal magnetic susceptibility and electrical conductivities. Spreading between the Western and Eastern Cape of South Africa the mid- to lower crust that hosts these anomalies is obscured by the overlying Cape and Karoo Supergroups. Between 2003 and 2006, three high resolution geophysical experiments were completed across the surface maximum of the Beattie Magnetic Anomaly (BMA) and the Southern Cape Conductive Belt (SCCB). These included a magnetotelluric (MT) survey and near vertical reflection and wide angle refraction seismic profiles. Within the MT inversion model the SCCB appeared as a composite anomaly, which included a mid-crustal conductor which is spatially associated with the BMA and a laterally continuous upper crustal conductor which is located at depths equivalent to the lower Karoo Supergroup. Subsequently; the upper crustal conductor was identified in northern and eastern extensions of the magnetotelluric profile; a distance in excess of 400 km. Historical magnetometer and Schlumberger Sounding experiments have previously identified elevated conductivities in the Karoo sequences which were attributed to the Whitehill and Prince Albert formations. These carboniferous, transgressive sediments are known to be conductive from borehole conductivity surveys and direct measurements at surface. In order to constrain the conductive properties of these sediments, impedance spectroscopy (IS) experiments were completed on core samples collected from a historical borehole drilled near to the MT profile. Part One of this thesis presents the results of these experiments, which support the proposition that the Whitehill and Prince Albert Formations are responsible for the laterally continuous, sub-horizontal, upper crustal conductor visible in the MT inversion model. Vitrinite reflectance studies were performed on the same samples by the Montanuniversität, in Leoben, these results corroborate the proposition that elevated organic carbon, of meta-anthracite rank, is the primary conductive phase for the Whitehill and Prince Albert formations. Part two of this thesis completed forward modelling exercises using historical aeromagnetic data previously collected across the Beattie Magnetic Anomaly. Preliminary models were unable to fit the geometry of any single magnetic model with conductors present in the MT inversion model discounting the proposition that the SCCB and BMA arise from a single crustal unit. Two constrained models were arrived at through an iterative process that sought a best fit between the measured data and the NVR crustal interpretations. The first model, proposes a largely resistive unit which incorporates…