Abstract

Paleomagnetic and potassium-argon measurements on 786 oriented cores from 99 volcanic units at 18 sites in the Waianae and Koolau Ranges, Oahu, when combined with data from previous studies, show that the sub-aerial Waianae Volcano was active only from about 3.6 to 2.4 m.y. ago and the subaerial Koolau Volcano from about 2.6 to 1.8 m.y. ago. There is some evidence that Waianae Volcano was still active when Koolau Volcano emerged from the sea. The predominantly tholeiitic lower and middle members of the Waianae Volcanic Series are approximately contemporaneous and were extruded during the late Gilbert and early Gauss geomagnetic polarity epochs. They were followed within less than 0.2 m.y. by the alkalic lavas of the upper member, which were probably extruded largely during the later part of the Gauss normal polarity epoch. The Koolau Volcanic Series was extruded entirely during the early Matuyama reversed polarity epoch. Data from three thick stratigraphic sections in the Waianae and Koolau Volcanic Series indicate that stacks of lava flows as much as 470 m thick can be formed in less than 0.25 m.y. and that the maximum average period between superimposed lava flows is on the order of 103 yrs. Additional data on the hawaiite flow that led to the discovery of the Kaena reversed event indicate that this reversed flow is 2.85 ± 0.05 m.y. old. Angular dispersion of virtual geomagnetic poles (VGP) in the Hawaiian Islands appears to have decreased during the past 5 m.y. This may be caused by a decrease in dipole wobble, a decrease in the nondipole component of the Earth' magnetic field, or the accumulated effects of weathering, tectonism, and geomorphic processes in older rocks. The mean Waianae and Koolau VGPs are slightly on the side of the Earth's rotation axis away from Oahu. This supports, but does not prove, the hypothesis that the axial dipole is displaced slightly northward from the Earth's center. Three VGP “excursions” were recorded in sections of lava in the Waianae and Koolau ranges. During these excursions, the VGPs appear to have traveled away from or toward the geographic axis along great circle paths, suggesting they may be related to the dipole rather than the nondipole field and may record aborted reversals in polarity or rapid and infrequent dipole tilts.

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