Paleomagnetism of a lateritic paleoweathering horizon and overlying Paleoproterozoic red beds from South Africa: Implications for the Kaapvaal apparent polar wander path and a confirmation of atmospheric oxygen enrichment

D. A.D. Evans, N. J. Beukes, J. L. Kirschvink

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62 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The Olifantshoek Group in southern Africa contains Paleoproterozoic red beds that are exceptionally well preserved, lying unconformably atop a regionally extensive lateritic paleoweathering profile. We studied the basal unit of this succession, known as the Gamagara or Mapedi Formation, and the lateritized substrate (so-called "Drakenstein" or "Wolhaarkop" paleosol) on which it developed. Two ancient magnetic components are observed. One (INT), usually with a distributed unblocking spectrum between 300° and 600°C but occasionally persisting to >675°C, is directed shallowly southward or northward. A mesoscale fold test at South Sishen Mine indicates that this component was acquired during deformation; similarity of the direction to previous results suggests that it was acquired at ∼1240 Ma, during early Namaqua orogenesis. Combining our INT results with existing data from the Namaqua eastern zone (NEZ), we calculate the NEZ pole at (44.9°N, 021.5°E, K = 23.2, A95 = 12.8°, Q = 5). The most stable component from our data set (HIG), always persisting as a nonzero endpoint to demagnetization at >665°-680°C, is observed in 32 samples from South Sishen and Beeshoek Mines. Directed moderately east-downward (Sishen) or west-upward (Beeshoek), this component predates the mesoscale fold at Sishen. More importantly, a conglomerate test at Beeshoek indicates that HIG was acquired prior to Paleoproterozoic deposition of the Gamagara/Mapedi Formation. The concordance between directions from the paleoweathering zone and immediately overlying red beds indicates that HIG is a primary magnetic remanence for the basal Gamagara/Mapedi (BGM) Formation. The dual-polarity BGM paleomagnetic pole (02.2°N, 081.9°E, dp = 7.2°, dm = 11.5°, Q = 6) lies neatly between previous Kaapvaal poles with ages of ∼2220 (Ongeluk lavas) and 2060 Ma (Bushveld complex). Our data thus support recent correlations of the Gamagara/Mapedi Formation with pre-Bushveld sediments of the Pretoria Group. A pre-Bushveld age for BGM is also consistent with its substantial distance from a new, albeit less reliable, paleomagnetic pole from the ∼1930-Ma Hartley lavas, higher within the Olifantshoek succession (12.5°N, 332.8°E, K = 18.6, A95 = 16.0°, Q = 3). Our conglomerate test at Beeshoek confirms previous allegations that the intense hematitization observed in the Drakenstein-Wolhaarkop paleosol occurred during Paleoproterozoic weathering under a highly oxygenated atmosphere.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)EPM 2-1 - 2-22
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Volume107
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 10 Dec 2002

Keywords

  • Apparent polar wander paths
  • Lateritic paleosols
  • Paleoatmosphere
  • Paleomagnetism
  • Paleoproterozoic
  • South Africa

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science

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