Abstract

Rock and paleomagnetic measurements have been made on a set of 54 basalts dredged from 17 stations located within the central valley of the Cayman Trough. Seventeen of the samples could be oriented with respect to the in situ vertical by the use of lava cooling ledges and stalactites.Peak remanent intensities in the Cayman Trough are lower than peak Mid-Atlantic Ridge values by a factor of 2 or 3 even after allowance is made for the latitudinal variation in geomagnetic field intensity. This difference is likely to be the result of the combined effects of relatively low saturation magnetization and more advanced low temperature oxidation of titanomagnetite in the Cayman Trough basalts.Five young, reversely magnetized basalts, similar to those found on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, occur in the Cayman Trough sample set.Plots of the magnetic parameters of the pillow basalts with distance from the axis of the trough show broad highs or lows associated with the axis. Our interpretation is that crustal formation in the central valley has occurred recently, but it has either been rather diffuse or is now much disturbed tectonically on a small scale in comparison with the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Analysis of the distribution of Curie temperatures suggests that crustal accretion has been slow (0.1–0.4 cm year−1 half-rate) and may have ceased in the area studied at about 0.6 Ma BP.

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