Abstract

This study is the first of a series in which a main concern will be to establish the Neogene absolute motion of the African Plate. A combined palaeomagnetic and K–Ar whole rock age dating study has been made of the Haruj Assuad basaltic volcanic area of central Libya. Seventy volcanic units, largely pahoehoe basaltic flows, were sampled in the north-central Haruj Assuad in an area centred on 27°45′ N, 017°30′E. Precisely defined paleomagnetic directions were obtained for 68 of the volcanic units and a weighted mean pole at 83°N, 171°E (δp = 5°, δm = 9°) obtained. This pole is just significantly different at the 95% level from the geographic pole. The difference between the paleomagnetic and geographic poles is thought to be largely the result of a degree of nonrepresentative sampling of the geomagnetic field. K–Ar radiometric age data indicate that volcanic activity in the Haruj Assuad area continued at least over the interval 6.0 to 0.4 my. The polarities of dated units are in agreement with the predictions of the time polarity scale. The ages of dated flows indicate that most of the flows presently exposed are younger than 2.2 my (i.e.) Upper Pliocene and younger. A scheme for assigning relative ages to groups of flows by degree of surface weathering is now calibrated in part with absolute ages.

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