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Remagnetization of Red Beds on the Tibetan Plateau: Mechanism and Diagnosis

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  • W. Huang
  • M.J. Jackson
  • M.J. Dekkers
  • P. Solheid
  • Y. Zhang
  • Shihu Li
  • Z. Guo
  • L. Ding
Article numbere2020JB020068
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>18/08/2020
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Issue number8
Number of pages20
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date11/07/20
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Red beds are important targets for paleomagnetic studies, yet discriminating secondary chemical remanent magnetization (CRM) from primary depositional remanent magnetization (DRM) in them remains challenging. Here we reanalyze the thermal demagnetization data of and conduct comprehensive rock magnetic, Mössbauer spectroscopic and petrographic studies on red beds from four Cenozoic basins on the eastern Tibetan Plateau (China): the Gongjue, Nangqian, Shanglaxiu, and Jinggu basins. The red beds in the latter two basins are remagnetized, as are most Nangqian red beds. The Gongjue red beds and some Nangqian red beds retain a DRM. Our results reveal that detrital (titano)magnetite and hematite are well preserved in red beds retaining the DRM, whereas remagnetized red beds contain large amounts of authigenic hematite and goethite with detrital Fe-bearing minerals strongly altered. Postdepositional diagenetic alteration induced by heating and/or fluid circulation related to magmatism and/or crustal deformation is probably the main reason for the remagnetization. Hematite carrying the CRM in remagnetized red beds has wide distribution of grain size and unblocking temperature spectra, while hematite carrying the DRM is usually coarse and has confined unblocking temperature spectrum. This can be used as a criterion for diagnosing remagnetization. Nanoscale goethite appears to occur only in remagnetized red beds: another sensitive criterion for discriminating CRM from DRM. These property-based criteria constrain the origin of the NRM in red beds better than the classic paleomagnetic field tests. Our research emphasizes that integrated rock magnetic, Mössbauer spectroscopic and petrographic studies provide robust tools to diagnose remagnetization in red beds.