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Primary and Secondary Red Bed Magnetization Constrained by Fluvial Intraclasts


The magnetization of hematite-bearing sedimentary rocks provides critical records of geomagnetic reversals and paleogeography. However, the timing of hematite remanent magnetization acquisition is typically difficult to constrain. While detrital hematite in sediment can lead to a primary depositional remanent magnetization, alteration of minerals through interaction with oxygen can lead to the postdepositional formation of hematite. In this study, we use exceptionally preserved fluvial sediments within the 1.1-billion-year-old Freda Formation to gain insight into the timing of hematite remanence acquisition and its magnetic properties. This deposit contains siltstone intraclasts that were eroded from a coexisting lithofacies and redeposited within channel sandstone. Thermal demagnetization, petrography, and rock magnetic experiments on these clasts reveal two generations of hematite. One population of hematite demagnetized at the highest unblocking temperatures and records directions that rotated along with the clasts. This component is a primary detrital remanent magnetization. The other component is removed at lower unblocking temperatures and has a consistent direction throughout the intraclasts. This component is held by finer-grained hematite that grew and acquired a chemical remanent magnetization following deposition resulting in a population that includes superparamagnetic nanoparticles in addition to remanence-carrying grains. The data support the interpretation that magnetizations of hematite-bearing sedimentary rocks held by >400-nm grains that unblock close to the Néel temperature are more likely to record magnetization from the time of deposition. This primary magnetization can be successfully isolated from cooccurring authigenic hematite through high-resolution thermal demagnetization.

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