Earth analog for Martian magnetic anomalies: remanence properties of hemo-ilmenite norites in the Bjerkreim-Sokndal intrusion, Rogaland, Norway

Suzanne A. McEnroe*, L. L. Brown, Peter Robinson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


To explain the very large remanent magnetic anomalies on Mars, which no longer has a global magnetic field, it is important to evaluate rocks on Earth with the necessary properties of high natural remanent magnetization (NRM) and coercivity. Here, we describe a possible analog from the 230-km2 930 Ma Bjerkreim-Sokndal layered intrusion (BKS) in Rogaland, Norway. In the layered series of the BKS, fractional crystallization of jotunitic magma was punctuated by influx and mixing of more primitive magmas, producing six megacyclic units, each typically with early plagioclase-rich norites, intermediate hemo-ilmenite-rich norites and late magnetite norites with subordinate near end-member ilmenite. Following each influx, the magma resumed normal crystallization and, following the last, near the base of Megacyclic Unit IV, crystallization continued until norites gave way to massive fayalite-magnetite mangerites and quartz mangerites in the upper part of the intrusion. The Megacycles are marked on a regional aeromagnetic map by remanent-controlled negative anomalies over ilmenite norites and induced positive anomalies over magnetite norites and mangerites. A prominent negative anomaly (with amplitude -13,000 nT in a high-resolution helicopter survey, down to -27,000 nT below background in ground magnetic profiles) occurs over the central part of Megacyclic Unit IV. The anomaly is centered on ilmenite norite Unit IVe and is most intense where cumulate layering is near vertical at the southeast edge of the Bjerkreim Lobe of the intrusion at Heskestad. Here, Unit IVe is flanked to the east by magnetite norite of Unit IVc and country-rock gneisses (group E) and to the west by Unit IVf magnetite norite and mangerites (group W). Magnetic properties were measured on 128 oriented samples. Susceptibilities are similar for all three sample groups at ∼8×10-2, but Koenigsberger ratios are very different, with average values of 7.7 for IVe, and <1 for groups E and W. The IVe samples, with only a few percent of oxides, have the highest NRMs measured from the BKS, up to 74 A/m, with an average of 30.6 A/m, making them prime candidates for consideration as Mars analogs. The mean direction for IVe samples is D=17.6°, I=-79.9, a95 =10°, almost opposite the present field. Evidence on origin of the strong NRM in IVe as compared to groups E and W, include greater abundance of hemo-ilmenite and of orthopyroxene with hemo-ilmenite exsolution, and the strong lattice-preferred orientation of both in a relationship favorable for "lamellar magnetism". Massive magnetite-free hemo-ilmenite ores in anorthosite from the same district also produce negative magnetic anomalies. They have a substantial but much lower NRM, suggesting that there are special oxide properties in the IVe rocks at Heskestad.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)195-212
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Applied Geophysics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Aeromagnetic
  • Hematite
  • Hemo-ilmenite
  • Magnetic anomalies
  • Mars


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