The Importance of Age Control in Defining Apparent Polar Wander Paths of Fast Moving Plates: The Jurassic Case Study
Abstract:During periods of fast plate motion (e.g. Cambrian, Jurassic), plate velocities in excess of ~20 cm/yr (200 km/Myr) relative to the Earth’s spin axis have been suggested. Pinning down the position of fast moving plates requires paleomagnetic poles (paleopoles) with age resolution of a few million years. Modern generations of apparent polar wander paths (APWPs) are becoming increasingly sophisticated in handling ever-growing volumes of data, usually by applying moving windows (e.g., 10 Myr) to the available paleopoles. Averaging paleopoles of fast moving plates may however result in loss of resolution whereby abrupt (but real) changes in APWP may appear subdued when a multimillion-year moving window is applied. Episodes of fast motion are better captured by using paleopoles with best age resolution (coupled with good structural control and provided with inclination flattening estimates) grouped within discrete and independent time windows. Best age control is attained when paleopoles are retrieved from laterally reproducible magnetostratigraphic sections calibrated with biostratigraphy and/or radiometric dating and correlated with reference timescales.
This approach was recently applied to the construction of the Adria-Africa APWP (Muttoni et al. 2013). Paleopoles from parautochthonous regions of Adria and obtained either from biostratigraphically dated sedimentary rocks, corrected for inclination shallowing, or from radiometrically dated igneous rocks that are regarded as free from inclination shallowing, were compared with coeval, and inclination flattening-free, paleopoles from stable Africa. The resulting composite APWP shows a remarkable agreement with the Kent and Irving (2010) APWP, and displays a rapid polar shift of ~40° during the Jurassic that other APWPs tend to underestimate. This Jurassic monster shift is also predicted for Eurasia. Paleomagnetic data from the Kimmeridgian–Tithonian Garedu Formation of Iran, which was part of Eurasia since the Triassic, indicate a paleolatitude of deposition that is in excellent agreement with the latitude drop predicted by the monster shift (Mattei et al. 2014), which stands as a major and generalized plate motion event of vast and as yet unexplored paleogeographic implications.