Magnetostratigraphic results are described from two sections within the Lower Cretaceous Vectis Formation (formerly Wealden Shales) of the Isle of Wight, Southern England. The sections are located at Shepherd's Chine and Yaverland, respectively.
In both of these sections a reliably-established reverse polarity magnetozone, herein defined as the Vectis magnetozone, occurs within the Shepherd's Chine Member. This magnetozone has a thickness of some 15 m and its upper boundary is well defined in the Yaverland section but is obscured in the Shepherd's Chine Section due to cliff slumping. The lower boundary is well established in both sections and lies some 15 m above the Barnes High Sandstone Member in the Shepherd's Chine section and 12 m above this unit at Yaverland. This boundary provides a useful chron-stratigraphic datum.
A comparison with established geomagnetic polarity timescales for the Cretaceous indicates that the Vectis magnetozone may be correlated either with Lower Aptian reverse polarity Chron CM-0 or with Lower Barremian Chron CM-1, with the former being the more likely. An important implication of this interpretation is that the base of the Aptian stage, as defined from Tethyan foraminiferal zones, must lie within the Vectis Formation, at least 25-30 m beneath the top of the Shepherd's Chine Member, rather than at the top of this member as hitherto commonly accepted.
Beds characterized by anomalously high intensities of magnetization, which occur at the base of the Vectis Formation and a few metres above the Barnes High Sandstone in the two sections, are tentatively interpreted as having a volcanogenic origin.