Geomagnetic paleointensities from radiocarbon-dated lava flows on Hawaii and the question of the Pacific nondipole low


  • Robert S. Coe,

  • Sherman Grommé,

  • Edward A. Mankinen


Radiocarbon ages have been published for nine basaltic lava flows on the island of Hawaii; the ages range from 2600 to somewhat older than 17,900 years B.P. By using the Thelliers' method in vacuum, geomagnetic paleointensity values were obtained from eight of the lavas; the ninth proved unsuitable. The paleointensities for the four youngest flows (2600–4600 years B.P.) yield virtual dipole moments (VDM's) that are 20% greater to more than twice the worldwide values for those times obtained by V. Bucha from archeomagnetic data. The dispersion of virtual geomagnetic poles for the eight lavas is 15.5°, appreciably larger than the average for older lava flows on Hawaii. These results contrast with the historic magnetic field in the region of Hawaii, in which both secular variation and nondipole components are very low. At about 10,000 years B.P. the measured VDM is not very different from the long-term worldwide average but differs considerably from a smooth extrapolation of Bucha's average curve. At about 18,000 years B.P. the measured VDM is very low and is associated with an unusually shallow paleomagnetic inclination for the latitude of Hawaii. These new paleointensity and paleodirectional data strongly suggest that sizable nondipole geomagnetic fields have existed in the vicinity of Hawaii at various times during the Holocene epoch and perhaps earlier.