Gravity and magnetic studies of the eastern Mojave Desert, California and Nevada

Open-File Report 2016-1070
By:  and 



From May 2011 to August 2014, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) collected gravity data at more than 2,300 stations and physical property measurements on more than 640 rock samples from outcrops in the eastern Mojave Desert, California and Nevada. Gravity, magnetic, and physical-property data are used to study and locate regional crustal structures as an aid to understanding the geologic framework related to mineral resources of the eastern Mojave Desert.

The eastern Mojave Desert is host to a world-class rare earth element carbonatite deposit located at Mountain Pass, California. Carbonatites are typically defined as magmatic rocks with high modal abundances of primary carbonate minerals >50 weight percent and elevated abundances of rare earth elements (REEs) (Nelson and others, 1988; Woolley and Kempe, 1989). The “Sulphide Queen” carbonatite ore deposit is a composite, tabular body made up of sills and dikes of REE-bearing sovites and beforsites that occurs just south of the Clark Mountain Range along a north-northwest trending fault-bounded block that extends along the northeast edge of the Mescal Range and northwestern extent of Ivanpah Mountains. This early to middle Proterozoic block is composed of a 1.7 Ga metamorphic complex of gneiss and schist that underwent widespread metamorphism and associated plutonism during the Ivanpah orogeny (Miller and others, 2007). Subsequently, these rocks were intruded by a series of granitoids, which included the 1.4 Ga (DeWitt and others, 1987) ultrapotassic alkaline suite of intrusions that are spatially and temporally associated with hundreds of dikes, outcrops, and a carbonatite ore body. The relative age sequence of this intrusive suite of alkaline rocks from oldest to youngest includes shonkinite, mesosyenite, syenite, quartz syenite, potassic granite, carbonatite, and late shonkinite dikes (Olson and others, 1954; Wooden and Miller, 1990; Haxel, 2005; Miller and others, 2007).

Suggested Citation

Denton, K.M., and Ponce, D.A., 2018, Gravity and magnetic studies of the eastern Mojave Desert, California and Nevada (ver 1.1, August 2018): U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2016-1070, 20 p.,

ISSN: 2331-1258 (online)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Geophysical Methods and Data
  • Regional Discussion
  • Acknowledgments
  • References Cited
  • Appendix A. Gravity Base Stations
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Gravity and magnetic studies of the eastern Mojave Desert, California and Nevada
Series title Open-File Report
Series number 2016-1070
DOI 10.3133/ofr20161070
Edition ver. 1.1: August 2018; ver. 1: June 2016
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Geology, Minerals, Energy, and Geophysics Science Center
Description Report: iv, 20 p.; 3 Tables; Metadata; version history
Time Range Start 2011-05-01
Country United States
State California, Nevada
Other Geospatial Mojave Desert
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Additional Online Files (Y/N) Y
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details