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Magnetic properties of dredged oceanic gabbros and the source of marine magnetic anomalies

Kent, Dennis V.; Honnorez, B. M.; Opdyke, Neil D.; Fox, P. J.

Magnetic property studies (natural remanent magnetization, initial susceptibility, progressive alternating field demagnetization and magnetic mineralogy of selected samples) were completed on 45 samples of gabbro and metagabbro recovered from 14 North Atlantic ocean-floor localities. The samples are medium to coarse-grained gabbro and metagabbro which exhibit subophitic intergranular to hypidiomorphic granular igneous textures. The igneous mineralogy is characterized by abundant plagioclase, varying amounts of clinopyroxene and hornblende, and lesser amounts of magnetite, ilmenite and sphene. Metamorphic minerals (actinolite, chlorite, epidote and fine-grained alteration products) occur in varying amounts as replacement products or vein material. The opaque mineralogy is dominated by magnetite and ilmenite. The magnetite typically exhibits a trellis of exsolution-oxidation ilmenite lamellae that appears to have formed during deuteric alteration.
The NRM intensities of the gabbros range over three orders of magnitude and give a geometric mean of 2.8×10^-4 gauss and an arithmetic mean of 8.8×10^-4 gauss. The Konigsberger ratio, a measure of the relative importance of remanent to induce magnetization, is greater than unity for the majority of the samples and indicates that remanent magnetization on average dominates the total magnetization of oceanic gabbros in the Earth's magnetic field. The magnetic properties of fresh and metamorphosed gabbros appeared to be similar. The majority of gabbros studied were characterized by median destructive fields greater than 200 Oe. The high stability is attributed largely to the effective subdivision of the magnetite grains by the ilmenite lamellae. Model studies based on a magnetization distribution in the oceanic crust inferred from the magnetic property analysis of representative rock bodies within the oceanic crust, suggest that remanent magnetic contrasts in the gabbroic rocks of Layer 3 can be expected to contribute significantly to the generation of sea-floor spreading-type marine magnetic anomalies.


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Also Published In

Geophysical Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society

More About This Work

Academic Units
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Biology and Paleo Environment
Published Here
January 23, 2012