Although the spatial association of iron-rich lavas and high-amplitude magnetic anomalies is well documented, a causal link between enhanced iron content and high remanent magnetization has been difficult to establish. Here we report magnetic data from approximately 250 samples, with 8-16% FeO* (total iron as FeO), from the southern East Pacific Rise (EPR) that provide strong support for the presumed geochemical dependence of remanent intensity. The limited age range (0-6 ka) of axial lavas from this ultrafast spreading ridge (∼150 mm/yr full rate) effectively minimizes variations resulting from time dependent changes in geomagnetic intensity or low-temperature alteration. Systematic sampling relative to the chilled margin illustrates that substantial grain size-related variations in magnetic properties occur on a centimeter scale. Both microprobe data and Curie temperatures suggest that the average groundmass titanomagnetite composition in the southern EPR samples is approximately constant (modal modified ulvöspinel content = 0.67) over a wide range of lava compositions. Saturation magnetization and saturation remanence are highly correlated with FeO* (R = 0.73 and 0.83, respectively), indicating that more iron-rich lavas have higher abundances of otherwise similar titanomagnetite. We show that there is a good correlation between natural remanent magnetization (NRM) and FeO*, provided that sufficient specimens are used to determine the average NRM of a sample (R = 0.63). Because the range of iron contents in mid-ocean ridge basalts is limited, the best fit slope (4.44 A/m per %FeO* in an ambient field of 0.030 mT) should provide reasonable bounds on the equatorial magnetization of submarine lavas (∼10 A/m at 8.5% FeO* and ∼50 A/m at ∼16% FeO*). Finally, we demonstrate that along-axis variations in NRM closely parallel geochemical changes along the southern EPR. Where magnetization values deviate significantly from those predicted from the range of measured FeO* contents, these discrepancies may reflect additional unrecognized geochemical variability.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Geochemistry and Petrology
- Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
- Space and Planetary Science