Abstract

The Red Arch Formation is a continental red bed succession of uncertain age exposed on the northeast coast of Ireland. There are lithological similarities with the Old Red Sandstone of the Highland Border region, although unconformities within the succession, the presence of reworked aeolian sand grains and variations in the induration of the rocks have prompted earlier workers to suggest that the upper part of the succession may be Triassic in age.

This paper reports palaeomagnetic results from the Red Arch Formation. The characteristic magnetizations (ChRMs) are exclusively of reversed polarity and the palaeomagnetic pole position for the sequence bears close comparison with other results from the Old Red Sandstone in Scotland and southern Britain. These poles are regarded as magnetic overprints formed during the Kiaman Superchron because they fall in the Permo‐Carboniferous segment of the apparent polar wander path.

Sandstone dykes that cut the Red Arch Formation on a NNE–SSW and NNW–SSE trend have also been studied palaeomagnetically. The dykes show more steeply inclined ChRMs predominantly of normal polarity. The dykes are therefore interpreted to be post‐Kiaman in age, a conclusion consistent with our structural observations. The age of the dykes cannot be determined precisely because they have also been, at least partially, remagnetized. Lithological and regional geological considerations suggest the dykes are Triassic in age and formed in an extensional stress regime prior to the opening of the North Atlantic. They were remagnetized in Tertiary times, possibly associated with uplift and emplacement of the British Tertiary Igneous Province.

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