Assessing the fidelity of the marine sedimentary magnetic record

preservation and diagenetic alteration of magnetic mineral assemblages in upwelling regions off western Africa


Marine sediments, diagenesis, anoxic environments, paleomagnetism, low-temperature magnetism, magnetic Fe-Ti-Oxides. - Magnetic particles usually occur in very minor concentrations in igneous and sedimentary rocks, soils, volcanic ashes, dusts and even in living organisms. Many of these magnetic grains are capable of carrying a stable permanent magnetization and therefore act as recorders of the recent and ancient Earth's magnetic field. Thus paleomagnetism refers to the study of this remanent magnetization in sedimentary and volcanic rocks through time. From this magnetization, directional intensity information can be recovered concerning the geomagnetic field that prevailed at the sample location at the time of the rock formation. The magnetic parameter on which such paleomagnetic studies are based is the natural remanent magnetization (NRM). In continental margin regions the remanence acquisition process is often complicated by post-depositional modifications of the original magnetic material. After deposition magnetic minerals can be altered or new magnetic phases can be formed. Consequently the original NRM might be obscured or even fully erased. The process of diagenesis and authigenesis may thus seriously compromise paleomagnetic interpretation. Therefore our knowledge of the geomagnetic field behavior based on sediment records from continental margin regions remains limited. To obtain fully reliable information about the geomagnetic field or paleoenvironmental conditions from continental margin regions, the effect of early diagenetic processes occurring after deposition of the sediment must be understood in detail.
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