Importance of titanohematite in detrital remanent magnetizations of strata spanning the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary, Hell Creek region, Montana

Courtney J. Sprain, Joshua M. Feinberg, Paul R. Renne, Mike Jackson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Intermediate composition titanohematite, Fe2-yTiyO3 with 0.5≤y≤0.7, is seldom the focus of paleomagnetic study and is commonly believed to be rare in nature. While largely overlooked in magnetostratigraphic studies, intermediate titanohematite has been identified as the dominant ferrimagnetic mineral in an array of Late Mesozoic and early Cenozoic Laramide clastic deposits throughout the central United States. Intermediate titanohematite is ferrimagnetic and has similar magnetic properties to titanomagnetite, except its unique self-reversing property. Due to these similarities, and with detrital remanent magnetizations masking its self-reversing nature, intermediate titanohematite is often misidentified in sedimentary deposits. Past studies relied upon nonmagnetic techniques including X-ray diffraction and electron microprobe analysis. While these techniques can identify the presence of intermediate titanohematite, they fail to test whether the mineral is the primary recorder. To facilitate the identification of intermediate titanohematite in sedimentary deposits, we characterize this mineral using low-temperature magnetometry and high-temperature susceptibility experiments, and present a new identification technique based on titanohematite's self-reversing property, for sediments that span the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary (Hell Creek region, Montana). Results from the self-reversal test indicate that the majority of remanence is held by minerals that become magnetized parallel to an applied field, but that intermediate, self-reversing titanohematite (y = 0.53-0.63) is an important ancillary carrier of remanence. While earlier literature suggests that intermediate titanohematite is rare in nature, reanalysis using specialized rock magnetic techniques may reveal that it is more abundant in the rock record, particularly within depositional basins adjacent to calc-alkaline volcanics, than previously thought.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)660-678
Number of pages19
JournalGeochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the Institute for Rock Magnetism (IRM), the Geological Society of America, and the Esper S. Larsen Fund for support of this work. Sample analysis was funded by an IRM visiting fellowship awarded to the first author. The first author was further funded by the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.


  • Hell Creek region
  • rock magnetism
  • titanohematite


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