Time-temperature relations for the remagnetization of pyrrhotite (Fe7S8) and their use in estimating paleotemperatures

D. J. Dunlop*, Ö Özdemir, D. A. Clark, P. W. Schmidt

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    62 Citations (Scopus)


    Paleotemperature controls the maturation of coal and hydrocarbons in sedimentary basins and is also important in determining paleogeothermal gradient and hence tectonic style in exhumed metamorphic terrains. One method of estimating paleotemperature analyses the partial remagnetization of a rock due to heating in thick volcanic or sedimentary sequences, over subcrustal heat sources such as plumes, or at convergent plate margins. The overprinted natural remanent magnetization (NRM) of a rock records both the age and the paleotemperature of remagnetization, but a temperature correction from laboratory to geological time scales is required, using theoretical time-temperature relations. Time-temperature relations are well known for magnetite (Fe3O4) but are reported here for the first time for pyrrhotite (Fe7S8), another common NRM carrier. Data for each mineral separately yield independent estimates of paleotemperature if geologically reasonable estimates of heating time can be made. Paleotemperature can be estimated without geological input if data for both minerals are combined. Together with the age of remagnetization, determined from the paleomagnetic pole of the NRM overprint, these paleotemperature estimates can be used to infer the history of heating and uplift following burial. As a test case, we examine thermally acquired NRM overprints carried by pyrrhotite (Fe7S8) and magnetite (Fe3O4) in the Milton Monzonite of southeastern Australia. These overprints record a heating event about 100 Ma ago, probably thermal doming prior to rifting of the Tasman Sea, that upgraded coal rank in the Sydney Basin. Extrapolating from laboratory to geological times, using the new time-temperature contours for pyrrhotite, we estimate that the presently exposed Sydney Basin in the vicinity of the Milton Monzonite was remagnetized by heating to 165 ± 30°C for ~ 100 ka. Assuming a paleogeothermal gradient of 70°C/km appropriate for young or incipient rifts, the depth of burial at the time of remagnetization is estimated to have been 2.3 ± 0.4 km. This figure is in excellent agreement with independent estimates based on reflectance data for the coal accessory mineral vitrinite. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)107-116
    Number of pages10
    JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 28 Feb 2000


    • Magnetite
    • P-T-t paths
    • Paleotemperature
    • Pyrrhotite
    • Remagnetization


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