The global crustal model CRUST1.0 (refined using additional global datasets of the solid topography, polar ice sheets and geoid) is used in this study to estimate the average densities of major crustal structures. We further use this refined model to compile the gravity field quantities generated by the Earth’s crustal structures and to investigate their spatial and spectral characteristics and their correlation with the crustal geometry in context of the gravimetric Moho determination. The analysis shows that the average crustal density is 2,830 kg/m3while it decreases to 2,490 kg/m3when including the seawater. The average density of the oceanic crust (without the seawater)is 2,860 kg/m3and the average continental crustal density (including the continental shelves) is 2,790 kg/m3The correlation analysis reveals that the gravity field corrected for major known anomalous crustal density structures has a maximum (absolute) correlation with the Moho geometry. The Moho signature in these gravity data is seen mainly at the long-to-medium wavelengths. At higher frequencies, the Moho signature is weakening due to a noise in gravity data, which is mainly attributed to crustal model uncertainties. The Moho determination thus requires a combination of gravity and seismic data. In global studies, gravimetric methods can help improving seismic results, because (1) large parts of the world are not yet sufficiently covered by seismic surveys and (2) global gravity models have a relatively high accuracy and resolution. In regional and local studies, the gravimetric Moho determination requires either a detailed crustal density model or seismic data (for a combined gravity and seismic data inversion). We also demonstrate that the Earth’s long-wavelength gravity spectrum comprises not only the gravitational signal of deep mantle heterogeneities (including the core–mantle boundary zone), but also shallow crustal structures. Consequently, the application of spectral filtering in the gravimetric Moho determination will remove not only the gravitational signal of (unknown) mantle heterogeneities, but also the Moho signature at the long-wavelength gravity spectrum.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Geochemistry and Petrology