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Richard Saltus

Research Geophysicist

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Rick Saltus is a Research Geophysicist in the Crustal Geophysics and Geochemistry Science Center in Denver, Colorado.  His research involves the application of potential field interpretation (gravity, magnetics, heat flow) to geologic problems.  Rick works on problems related to Resource Assessment, Tectonic Studies, and Data Integration.  His regional expertise is primarily focussed on Alaska and the Arctic. He received a PhD in Geophysics in 1991 from Stanford University, and a B.S. in Mathematics, also from Stanford University, in 1979.  Rick worked briefly in the software development field before beginning his professional career at the USGS in 1980. 


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Saltus, R.W., Oakey, G., Miller, E.L., and Jackson, R., 2012, Characterization of Arctic highly magnetic domains -- the geophysical expression of inferred Large Igneous Province(s): AGU Fall Meeting 2012, Abstract T31A-2580 (Poster). [Download File]

Saltus, R.W., Miller, E.L., and Gaina, Carmen, 2011, Regional magnetic domains of the circum-Arctic – A framework for geodynamic interpretation, in Spencer et al., eds., Arctic Petroleum Geology, Geological Society Memoir No. 35, p. 49-60.

Saltus, R.W., and Blakely, R.J., 2011, Unique geologic insights from "non-unique" gravity and magnetic interpretation: GSA Today, v. 21, n. 12, pp. 4-10. [Link]

Odleiv, O., and Saltus, R., 2010, Advances in magnetic and gravitational potential field data in the arctic: EOS, v. 91, n. 43, p. 396. (meeting report) [Link]

Saltus, R.W., 2010, Matching magnetic trends and patterns across the Tintina fault, Alaska and Canada – evidence for offset of about 510 km, in Gough, L.P. and Day, W.D.,, eds., Recent U.S. Geological Survey studies in the Tintina gold province Alaska, U.S.A., and Yukon, Canada—Summary results of a 5-year project: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2007-5289, p. C1-C7. [Link]

Pilkington, M., and Saltus, R.W., 2009, The Mackenzie River magnetic anomaly, Yukon and Northwest Territories, Canada – Evidence for early Proterozoic magmatic crust at the edge of the North American craton: Tectonophysics, v. 478, n. 1-2, p. 78-86.

Sims, P.K., Saltus, R.W., and Anderson, E.D., 2008, Precambrian basement structure map of the continental United States; an interpretation of geologic and aeromagnetic data: USGS Scientific Investigations Map SIM-3012, 1 sheet. [Link]

Day, W.C., O’Neill, J.M., Aleinikoff, J.N., Green, G.N., Saltus, R.W., and Gough, L.P., 2007, Geologic map of the Big Delta B-1 quadrangle, east-central Alaska: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Series Map 2975, 23-page pamphlet, 1 plate, scale 1:63,360. [Link]

Saltus, R.W., Phillips, J.D., Stanley, R.G., Till, A., and Morin, R.L., 2007, Geophysical characterization of pre-Cenozoic basement for hydrocarbon assessment, Yukon Flats, Alaska: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2007-1208. [Link]

Saltus, R.W., and Gaina, Carmen, 2007, Circum-Arctic Map Compilation, EOS, v. 88, n. 21, p. 227. [Link]

Saltus, R.W., 2007, Regional magnetic survey compilations – current issues: Gondwana Research, v. 11, n. 4, p. 580-581; doi:10.1016/

Saltus, R.W., and Hudson, T.L., 2007, Regional magnetic anomalies, crustal strength, and the location of the northern Cordilleran fold and thrust belt: Geology, v. 35, n. 6, p. 567-570; doi 10.1130/G23470A.1.

Saltus, R.W., Hudson, T.L, and Wilson, F.H., 2007, The geophysical character of southern Alaska – implications for crustal evolution, in Ridgway, K.D., Trop, J.M., Glen, J.M.G., and O’Neill, J.M., eds., Tectonic Growth of a Collisional Continental Margin: Crustal Evolution of Southern Alaska: Geological Society of America Special Paper 431, p. 1-20. doi: 10.1130/2007.2431(01).


My Science Topics

Science Topic
Natural Resourcesenergy resources
Natural Resourcesgeothermal resources
Natural Resourcesmineral resources
Natural Resourcesoil resources
Earth Characteristicsbouguer anomaly
Earth Characteristicsearth structure
Earth Characteristicsfree-air anomaly
Earth Characteristicsgravity
Earth Characteristicsisostatic anomaly
Earth Characteristicsmagnetic field
Techniques and Methodsaeromagnetic surveying
Techniques and Methodsaeroradiometric surveying

My USGS Science Strategy Areas

Data Integration & Interoperability

Energy & Minerals for America's Future

Circum-Arctic Tectonics

Image of Current Focus for Circum-Arctic Tectonics

Abstract: We identify and discuss 57 magnetic anomaly pattern domains spanning the circum-Arctic. The domains are based on analysis of a new circum-Arctic data compilation. The magnetic anomaly patterns can be broadly related to general geodynamic classification of the crust into stable, deformed (magnetic and nonmagnetic), deep magnetic high, oceanic and large igneous province domains. We compare the magnetic domains with topography/bathymetry, regional geology, regional free air gravity anomalies and estimates of the relative magnetic ‘thickness’ of the crust. Most of the domains and their geodynamic classification assignments are consistent with their topographic/bathymetric and geological expression. A few of the domains are potentially controversial. For example, the extent of the Iceland Faroe large igneous province as identified by magnetic anomalies may disagree with other definitions for this feature. Also the lack of definitive magnetic expression of oceanic crust in Baffin Bay, the Norwegian–Greenland Sea and the Amerasian Basin is at odds with some previous interpretations. The magnetic domains and their boundaries provide clues for tectonic models and boundaries within this poorly understood portion of the globe.

Geophysics in Support of Field Geologic Mapping

Image of Geophysics in Support of Field Geologic Mapping

One of my on-going research directions is the effective application of detailed magnetic and/or gravity data to geologic mapping at scales of 1:250,000 and larger.  In particular, the Alaska State Department of Geological and Geophysical Surveys (DGGS) have collected a large number of detailed airborne geophysical surveys over areas of interest for mineral exploration.  Through several USGS projects and through collaboration with colleagues from the Alaska State DGGS, I have interacted with field mappers and developed and applied techniques and toolkits for use of high-resolution geophysics in mapping of frontier areas.  Because of the high cost of field mapping in remote areas and the often poorly exposed geology, geophysics plays a significant role in these areas.

Contact Information

Richard Saltus
West 6th Ave. & Kipling St., DFC Bldg. 20
Lakewood, CO 80225-0046
303-236-1425 - Fax
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