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Paleomagnetic data from the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt: implications for tectonics and volcanic stratigraphy


We report a paleomagnetic and rock-magnetic study of Miocene volcanic rocks from the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt. A total of 32 sites (238 oriented samples) were collected from three localities: Queretaro, Guadalajara and Los Altos de Jalisco basaltic plateaux, which span from 11 to 7.5 Ma. Several rock-magnetic experiments were carried out in order to identify the magnetic carriers and to obtain information about their paleomagnetic stability. Microscopic observation of polished sections shows that the main magnetic mineral is Ti-poor titanomagnetite associated with exsolved ilmenite. Continuous susceptibility measurements with temperature yield in most cases reasonably reversible curves with Curie points close to that of magnetite. Judging from the ratios of hysteresis parameters, it seems that all samples fall in the pseudo-single domain (PSD) grain size region, probably indicating a mixture of multidomain (MD) and a significant amount of single domain (SD) grains. Based on our paleomagnetic and available radiometric data, it seems that the volcanic units have been emplaced during a relatively short time span of 1 to 2 My at each locality. The mean paleomagnetic directions obtained from each locality differ significantly from that expected for the Middle Miocene. The mean paleomagnetic direction calculated from 28 sites discarding those of intermediate polarity is I = 32.46°, D = 341.2°, k = 7.2 and α95 = 11.6°. Comparison with the expected direction indicates some 20° anticlockwise tectonic rotations for the studied area, in accordance with the proposed left-lateral transtensional tectonic regime already proposed for this period.


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Correspondence to Luis M. Alva-Valdivia.

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Alva-Valdivia, L.M., Goguitchaichvili, A., Ferrari, L. et al. Paleomagnetic data from the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt: implications for tectonics and volcanic stratigraphy. Earth Planet Sp 52, 467–478 (2000).

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  • Miocene
  • Volcanic Belt
  • Natural Remanent Magnetization
  • Paleomagnetic Data
  • Isothermal Remanent Magnetization