Polarity and Excursion Transitions: Can they be Adequately Recorded in High-Sedimentation-Rate Marine Sediments?

Friday, 19 December 2014: 11:05 AM
James E T Channell, Univ. Florida, Gainesville, FL, United States
Polarity transitions and magnetic excursions have durations of a few thousand years, or less. Transition/excursion records in volcanic sequences are, at best, partial snap-shots of the transition/excursion field. Records from high-sedimentation-rate marine sediments may be more continuous but they are always smoothed by progressive acquisition of detrital remanent magnetization (DRM), and by sampling/measurement limitations. North Atlantic records of the Matuyama-Brunhes (M-B) polarity transition are compared with records of the Iceland Basin excursion (190 ka). Virtual geomagnetic polar (VGP) paths are used to map characteristic magnetization directions during the transition/excursion. Relative paleointensity (RPI) proxies indicate partial recovery of field intensity during the transition/excursion, with RPI minima coinciding with abrupt VGP shifts at the onset and end of the transition/excursion. Discrepancies in VGP paths among holes at the same site, among sites, and a comparison of u-channel and discrete sample measurements, reveal limitations in resolution of the transition/excursion fields. During the M-B polarity transition, VGP clusters appear in the NW Pacific, NE Asia and in the South Atlantic. Similarities in VGP clustering for the M-B boundary and the Iceland Basin excursion imply that the polarity transition and excursion fields had common characteristics. Similarities with the modern non-axial dipole (NAD) field imply that polarity transitions and excursions involve the demise of the Earth’s axial dipole relative to the NAD field, and that the NAD field has long-lasting features locked in place by the lowermost mantle.