Large Rotation of the Easter Microplate as Evidenced by Oriented Paleomagnetic Samples from the Ocean Floor

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One of the goals of the Pito93 cruise along the perimeter of the Easter microplate was to obtain oriented rock samples from the ocean floor for paleomagnetic study. Using a new orienting device, the Geocompass, 14 oriented blocks were obtained during 6 dives conducted using the Ifremer DSRV Nautile. Paleomagnetic analysis shows that 13 of these 14 blocks give consistent results in thermal and AF demagnetizations, and reveals a mean Characteristic Remanent Magnetization (ChRM) direction within each block, with both normal and reverse polarities. After elimination of data from 5 blocks situated outside the microplate, and one block which bears an anomalous direction, we have computed a mean ChRM direction at Dm = 49.0°, Im = −39.0° (k = 10.2, α95 = 19.8 °, n = 7). Although the mean inclination is in agreement with the inclination of the recent dipole magnetic field (D = 0°, I = −43°), the average declination is significantly different from this direction, which we interpret as due to a bulk clockwise rotation of 48.5° ± 11° (after the bivariate average) of the Easter microplate over the past 2–3 Ma. This value is in excellent agreement with previous estimates based on remote geophysical measurements and models.

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Earth and Planetary Science Letters, v. 136, issue 3-4, p. 213-222