Abstract

The Wabigoon gabbro of the Archean Wabigoon greenstone belt in northwestern Ontario preserves a univectorial natural remanent magnetization (NRM) with D = 246°, I = 12° (k = 19.5, α95 = 10.5°, N = 11 sites). The precision is reduced if sample means are averaged, however (k = 9.3, α95 = 9.2°, N = 29 samples). The paleomagnetic pole falls either at 160°W, 11°S (δp = 5.3°, δm = 10.6°), corresponding to an age of ~1300 Ma on the Laurentian apparent polar wander path, or the reverse of this, 20°E, 11° N, corresponding to a late Archean age (~2800 Ma). No ~1300 Ma igneous or metamorphic event is known in the area; a major west-northwest-trending dike about 9 km south of the gabbro yields a virtual geomagnetic pole at 122°W, 45°N and seems to be of Abitibi age (~2150 Ma) rather than Mackenzie age (~1250 Ma). A few gabbro samples and some greenstones from the intrusive baked zone have hybrid remanences in which a higher blocking temperature Kenoran-age (~2600 Ma) NRM is superimposed on the gabbro characteristic NRM. However, the Kenoran component may be a younger chemical remanent magnetization (CRM) residing in hematite. The hypothesis that the gabbro characteristic remanence is itself a hybrid of Kenoran and Keweenawan (~1100 Ma) NRM's, which would explain both the high between-sample scatter and the lack of a ~1300 Ma remagnetizing event, is considered but rejected because fewer than 10% of the gabbro samples exhibit multivectorial swings during alternating field or thermal cleaning. Two geomagnetic field reversals are recorded at interior sites, but only one or none is recorded near the margin of the intrusion. The different cooling histories of margin and interior, as well as the bulk of the other evidence, favour magnetization during initial cooling in late Archean time.

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