Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Department of


Date of this Version



Earth Planets Space, 59, 815–824, 2007


Earth, Planets and Space (EPS) is a peer-reviewed open access journal published under the SpringerOpen brand.


We report a high-resolution record of a Miocene polarity transition (probably the Chron C6r-C6n transition) from glacimarine sediments in McMurdo Sound, Ross Sea, Antarctica, which is the first transition record reported from high southern latitudes. The transition is recorded in two parallel cores through a 10.7 m stratigraphic thickness. The sediments are interpreted as having been deposited in a marine environment under the influence of floating ice or seaward of a glacier terminus from which a large sediment load was delivered to the drill site. The core was recovered using rotary drilling, which precludes azimuthal orientation of the core and determination of a vector record of the field during the transition. However, constraints on transitional field behaviour are provided by the exceptional resolution of this record. Large-scale paleomagnetic inclination fluctuations in the two cores can be independently correlated with each other using magnetic susceptibility data, which suggests that the sediments are reliable recorders of geomagnetic field variations. Agreement between the two parallel transition records provides evidence for highly dynamic field behaviour, as suggested by numerous large-scale inclination changes (∼90◦) throughout the transition. These large-scale changes occur across stratigraphically narrow intervals, which is consistent with the suggestion of rapid field changes during transitions. In one intact portion of the core, where there is no apparent relative core rotation between samples, declinations and inclinations are consistent with the presence of a stable cluster of virtual geomagnetic poles within the transition (although the possibility that this cluster represents a rapid depositional event cannot be precluded). These observations are consistent with those from other high-resolution records and provide a rare detailed view of transitional field behaviour compared to most sedimentary records, which are not as thick and which appear to have been smoothed by sedimentary remanence acquisition processes.