Magnetic properties of ilmenite-hematite single crystals from the Ecstall pluton near Prince Rupert, British Columbia

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Abstract

Paleomagnetic studies of the 91 Ma Ecstall pluton and other Cretaceous plutons of British Columbia imply large northward tectonic movements (>2000 km) may have occurred during the tectonic evolution of western North America. However, more recent studies have shown that the eastern edge of the Ecstall pluton experienced considerable mineralogical changes as younger Eocene plutons, such as the ∼58 Ma Quottoon Pluton, were emplaced along its margins. We investigated changes in the rock magnetic properties associated with this reheating event by examining isolated grains of intergrown ilmenite and hematite, the primary paleomagnetic recorder in the Ecstall pluton. Measurements of hysteresis properties, low-temperature remanence, and room temperature isothermal remanent magnetization acquisition and observations from magnetic force microscopy and off-axis electron holography indicate that samples fall into three groups. The groups are defined by the presence of mineral microstructures that are related to distance from the Quotoon plutonic complex. The two groups closest to the Quottoon Pluton contain magnetite within hematite and ilmenite lamellae. Reheating of the Ecstall pluton led to an increase in coercivity and magnetization, as well as to development of mixed phase hysteresis. These results indicate that shallow paleomagnetic directions from the western Ecstall pluton are not affected by reheating and are therefore likely to record original field conditions at the time of pluton emplacement. In the absence of structural deformation, these shallow inclinations are consistent with large-scale northward translation suggested by the Baja–British Columbia hypothesis.

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