Abstract

The Michikamau anorthosite possesses very stable natural remanent magnetization, some of which resists alternating fields up to 1800 Oe. The rock contains two types of opaque grains, fine opaque needles of order 10 × 0.5 μ in the plagioclase felspar, and large equidimensional magnetite particles. Ore microscope studies suggest, but do not establish, that the needles are composed of magnetite. Saturation isothermal remanence and thermal demagnetization studies indicate magnetite as the carrier of remanent magnetization. In order to distinguish the effects of the large grains from those of the needles, mineral separation was used to show that an artificial specimen of essentially pure plagioclase had very similar isothermal remanent magnetization properties to the whole rock. Both indicated magnetite as the magnetic mineral. Thermoremanent properties of the separated mineral fractions indicated magnetite as the dominant magnetic constituent but showed some evidence of laboratory-produced hematite. Theoretical models of grains elongated along [111] and [110] axes are used to show that magnetite needles can exist in stable single-domain configuration in the size and shape ranges of the needles observed in the Michikamau anorthosite. There is thus considerable experimental and theoretical evidence for the conclusion that the stable remanent magnetization of the Michikamau anorthosite is carried by fine single–domain needles of magnetite in the plagioclase felspar.

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