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Grain Size-Dependent Alteration and the Magnetization of Oceanic Basalts

Kent, Dennis V.; Gee, Jeffrey S.

Unblocking temperatures of natural remanent magnetization were found to extend well above the dominant Curie points in samples of oceanic basalts from the axis of the East Pacific Rise. This phenomenon is attributed to the natural presence in the basalts of three related magnetic phases: an abundant fine-grained and preferentially oxidized titanomagnetite that carries most of the natural remanent magnetism, a few coarser and less oxidized grains of titanomagnetite that account for most of the high-field magnetic properties, and a small contribution to both the natural remanent magnetism and high-field magnetic properties from magnetite that may be due to the disproportionation of the oxidized titanomagnetite under sea-floor conditions. This model is consistent with evidence from the Central Anomaly magnetic high that the original magnetization acquired by oceanic basalts upon cooling is rapidly altered and accounts for the lack of sensitivity of bulk rock magnetic parameters to the degree of alteration of the remanence carrier in oceanic basalts.

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Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
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December 12, 2011
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