Integrated Geophysical Analysis of Passive Continental Margins : Insights into the Crustal Structure of the Namibian Margin from Magnetotelluric, Gravity, and Seismic Data

Passive continental margin research amalgamates the investigation of many broad topics, such as the emergence of oceanic crust, lithospheric stress patterns and plume-lithosphere interaction, reservoir potential, methane cycle, and general global geodynamics. Central tasks in this field of research are geophysical investigations of the structure, composition, and dynamic of the passive margin crust and upper mantle. A key practice to improve geophysical models and their interpretation, is the integrated analysis of multiple data, or the integration of complementary models and data. In this thesis, I compare four different inversion results based on data from the Namibian passive continental margin. These are a) a single method MT inversion; b) constrained inversion of MT data, cross-gradient coupled with a fixed structural density model; c) cross-gradient coupled joint inversion of MT and satellite gravity data; d) constrained inversion of MT data, cross-gradient coupled with a fixed gradient velocity model. To bridge the formal analysis of geophysical models with geological interpretations, I define a link between the physical parameter models and geological units. Therefore, the results from the joint MT and gravity inversion (c) are correlated through a user-unbiased clustering analysis. This clustering analysis results in a distinct difference in the signature of the transitional crust south of- and along the supposed hot-spot track Walvis Ridge. I ascribe this contrast to an increase in magmatic activity above the volcanic center along Walvis Ridge. Furthermore, the analysis helps to clearly identify areas of interlayered massive, and weathered volcanic flows, which are usually only identified in reflection seismic studies as seaward dipping reflectors. Lastly, the clustering helps to differentiate two types of sediment cover. Namely, one of near-shore, thick, clastic sediments, and one of further offshore located, more biogenic, marine sediments.


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