Magnetic petrology of basalts from Ninetyeast Ridge

Smith, GM, Gee J, Klootwijk CT.  1991.  Magnetic petrology of basalts from Ninetyeast Ridge. Proceedings of the Ocean Drilling Program, Scientific Results. 121:525-545.


18, Solid-earth geophysics, anomalies, basalts, Cenozoic, igneous rocks, Indian Ocean, Leg 121, magnetic, magnetic minerals, magnetic properties, magnetization, natural remanent magnetization, Ninetyeast Ridge, Ocean Drilling, paleomagnetism, petrology, program, remanent magnetization, rocks, volcanic


Given the importance of the inversion of seamount magnetic anomalies, particularly to the motion of the Pacific plate, it is important to gain a better understanding of the nature of the magnetic source of these features. Although different in detail, Ninetyeast Ridge is composed of submarine and subaerial igneous rocks that are similar to those found at many seamounts, making it a suitable proxy. We report here on the magnetic petrology of a collection of samples from Ninetyeast Ridge in the Indian Ocean. Our purpose is to determine the relationship between primary petrology, subsequent alteration, and magnetic properties of the recovered rocks. Such information will eventually lead to a more complete understanding of the magnetization of seamounts and presumably improvements in the accuracy of anomaly inversions. Three basement sites were drilled on Ninetyeast Ridge, with recovery of subaerial basalt flows at the first two (Sites 756 and 757) and submarine massive and pillow flows at the final one (Site 758). The three sites were distinctly different. Site 756 was dominated by ilmenite. What titanomagnetite was present had undergone deuteric alteration and secondary hematite was present in many samples. The magnetization was moderate and stable although it yielded a paleolatitude somewhat lower than expected. Site 757 was highly oxidized, presumably while above sea level. It was dominated by primary titanomagnetite, which was deuterically altered. Secondary hematite was common. Magnetization was relatively weak but quite stable. The paleolatitude for all but the lowermost flows was approximately 40° lower than expected. Site 758 was also dominated by primary titanomagnetite. There was relatively little oxidation with most primary titanomagnetite showing no evidence of high-temperature alteration. No secondary hematite was in evidence. This site had the highest magnetization of the three (although somewhat low relative to other seamounts) but was relatively unstable with significant viscous remanence in many samples. Paleolatitude was close to the expected value. It is not possible, at present, to confidently associate these rocks with specific locations in a seamount structure. A possible and highly speculative model would place rocks similar to Site 757 near the top of the edifice, Site 756 lower down but still erupted above sea level, and Site 758 underlying these units, erupted while the seamount was still below sea level.