Publication 59

Electrical conductivity structure of the Purcell Anticlinorium in southeast British Columbia and northwest Montana

Gupta, J.C. and A.G. Jones


Magnetotelluric data from almost 200 sites were acquired by a commercial contractor over the Precambrian Purcell Anticlinorium west of the Rocky Mountains of Canada and the United States. Fifteen east-west profiles cross the Anticlinorium between latitudes of 48 N and 49.5 N, and provide a grid suitable for a regional 3D study of the electrical structure of predominantly the upper crust. The data show essentially a resistive uppermost crust, varying from 2 to 6 km in thickness, over a strongly conductive widespread electrical "basement". The general electrical strike of this conductive basement is found to be N30W, which concurs with the surface geological trend of the region. The data from all profiles were inverted one-dimensionally, and from two of the profiles two-dimensionally, using different algorithms, to test the accuracy of the one-dimensional images. The main features found are: (1) the sediments in the Upper and Middle BeltPurcell strata, in general, are more conducting than those in the Lower Belt strata of the Anticlinorium; (2) the basement conductor appears to be strongest just to the south of the Canada/U.S. border with resistivities of around 1 ohm.m or less; (3) the western part of the region is more conducting than the eastern part, suggesting that the sources of sedimentation on the two sides of the region were different; (4) the enhanced conductivity observed can be explained by the presence of mineralization (copper etc.), rather than other geophysical causes; (5) in the Rocky Mountain trench, asymmetric mineralization prevails: near the western edge the conductivity increases downwards from near the surface, and near the eastern edge it increases downwards from a depth of about 2 km; (6) a few kilometres west of the Rocky Mountain trench in the resistive terrain there exist two narrow, vertical and significantly conductive electrical "conduits"; and (7) the pervasive conductive basement extends further east and north than the present location of the copper sulphide mines in northwestern Montana.


Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences, 32, 1564-1583, 1995.

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Alan G Jones / 10 June 2004 /