Magnetic study of serpentinized harzburgites from the Islas Orcadas Fracture Zone Academic Article uri icon


  • Magnetic properties and bulk densities of 27 serpentinized harzburgite samples from the Islas Orcadas Fracture Zone, located in the vicinity of the Bouvet Triple Junction, have been measured and analyzed. Polished sections were examined using reflected light and scanning electron microscopy to characterize the size and geometric arrangement of opaque minerals. The relationship between the saturation magnetization (I-S) and remanent coercive force (H-R) is considered in terms of the amount of ferrimagnetic material and maghemitization. A suite of continental serpentinites from Canada is offered as contrast, to consider the role of weathering and maghemitization. Magnetite in the Islas Orcadas serpentinites is variably maghemitized, whereas continental serpentinites do not appear to contain maghemitized oxides. We verify this with optical microscopy, thermomagnetic analyses and cryogenic temperature cycling of saturation remanence. Maghemitization serves to reduce initial magnetic susceptibility, and introduce error in the use of I-S to evaluate the magnetic mode of magnetite. The presence of maghemite and the existence of a three dimensional vein network for magnetite geometry would suggest that magnetic hysteresis parameters can not reliably indicate grain size. Magnetic hysteresis ratios fall in a restricted range regardless of coercivity. The apparent grain size configured in a three dimensional vein network plus maghemitization might be responsible for this observation. Maghemitization does not affect thermal magnetic stability and enhances the geophysical importance of remanence in serpentinites. Paleomagnetic data suggest that important information about the geologic circumstances for oceanic rock serpentinization is embodied in the paleomagnetic records. This observation may be very important for generation of long wavelength aeromagnetic and possibly even satellite magnetic anomalies.

publication date

  • 2000