Magnetic properties and oxidation of iron-titanium oxide minerals in Alae and Makaopuhi Lava Lakes, Hawaii


  • C. S. Grommé,

  • T. L. Wright,

  • D. L. Peck


Measurements of strong-field magnetization over the temperature range −196° to 700°C have been made on forty-eight drill core samples of tholeiitic basalt from Alae and Makaopuhi lava lakes, Kilauea volcano, Hawaii. These samples were originally obtained at temperatures ranging from 50° to 1020°C. Nearly all samples contain abundant hemoilmenite with Curie temperatures in the range −100° to −160°C. Samples quenched from high temperatures (800° to 1000°C) have second Curie temperatures ranging from 150° to 290°C, due to unoxidized titanomagnetite, and samples obtained at lower temperatures (50° to between 400° and 700°C) have second Curie temperatures ranging from 500° to 580°C. This transition from medium to high Curie temperatures occurs between 850° and 300°C, varying from one drill hole to another, and is accompanied by a marked increase in the strong-field magnetization at room temperature. Oxidation of original titanomagnetite to Ti-poor titanomagnetite containing ilmenite lamellas is the cause of the increase in Curie temperature. Comparison of the compositions of the oxide minerals with the oxygen fugacity data of Sato and Wright and the equilibrium reaction data of Buddington and Lindsley shows that oxygen fugacity was controlled largely by the buffering action of the oxide minerals; hence titanomagnetite was oxidized, whereas the more abundant hemoilmenite was little changed as the lava cooled. This oxidation occurred at temperatures well below equilibrium, the difference being generally of the order of 100°C but as much as 400°C. We conclude that in some basaltic lavas the magnetic minerals may form through subsolidus reactions at temperatures well below their final Curie temperatures. In such lavas the natural remanent magnetization is a mixture of thermoremanent magnetization and high-temperature chemical remanent magnetization.