Reversal asymmetry in Mesoproterozoic overprinting of the 1.88-Ga Gunflint Formation, Ontario, Canada: non-dipole effects or apparent polar wander?

Phillip W. Schmidt*, George E. Williams

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    19 Citations (Scopus)


    Eighty-two palaeomagnetic samples of calcareous and jaspilitic grainstones (iron-formation or 'taconite') and chert carbonate were collected from the 1.88-Ga Gunflint Formation at 22 sites in the Thunder Bay area, Ontario. Twenty clasts of Gunflint taconite also were sampled from the basal conglomerate of the overlying Mesoproterozoic Sibley Group. Anisotropy of magnetic susceptibility measurements indicate the Gunflint Formation in the sampling area has not experienced regional dynamic metamorphism. Analyses by variable-field translation balance and X-ray diffraction show that the predominant magnetic mineral is hematite but a small amount of magnetite also is present in some samples. Altogether, 213 Gunflint specimens and 59 Sibley conglomerate specimens were subjected to stepwise thermal demagnetisation and 74 Gunflint specimens to stepwise alternating-frequency demagnetisation. The following components were isolated for the taconites: Gunflint magnetite: Normal declination D =293.4°, inclination I =30.8°, α 95=7.2°, n =21; reverse D =86.7°, I =-54.6°, α 95=5.8°, n =29. Gunflint hematite: normal D =243.6°, I =23.6°, α 95=6.0°, n =11; reverse D =70.3°, I =-51.4°, α 95=3.2°, n =79. Sibley clasts magnetite: Normal D =282.7°, I =33.4°, α 95=7.6°, n =20. Sibley clasts hematite: Normal D =254.5°, I =56.2°, α 95=8.4°, n =13; reverse D =110.6°, I =-55.7°, α 95=8.3°, n =11. None of these sets passed the reversal test, with the normal component generally being the shallower. Fold tests were negative or inconclusive and the conglomerate test also was negative. Chert carbonate at one other site appears to have acquired a remanence carried by magnetite (D =97.3°, I =-78.2°, α 95=6.3°, n =18) prior to folding related to Keweenawan (1.1 Ga) Logan diabase sill emplacement. Most of the components we identified match components for Keweenawan sills, volcanic rocks, intrusions and baked contact rocks in the Thunder Bay area, indicating that Keweenawan magmatism caused widespread chemical remagnetisation of the Proterozoic country rock in our sampling area. Although others have argued that asymmetry was a feature of the Keweenawan geomagnetic field, the declinations of our Gunflint and Sibley hematite and magnetite components are different, suggesting that the components were acquired at significantly different times. We conclude that the reversal asymmetry shown by our Gunflint and Sibley data may best be ascribed to apparent polar wander during Keweenawan times.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)7-32
    Number of pages26
    Issue number1-2
    Publication statusPublished - 18 Dec 2003


    • Asymmetry
    • Gunflint Iron Formation
    • Keweenawan
    • Palaeomagnetism
    • Palaeoproterozoic
    • Reversals


    Dive into the research topics of 'Reversal asymmetry in Mesoproterozoic overprinting of the 1.88-Ga Gunflint Formation, Ontario, Canada: non-dipole effects or apparent polar wander?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this