The Steens Mountain (Oregon) geomagnetic polarity transition: 3. Its regional significance

Journal of Geophysical Research B: Solid Earth
By: , and 



Study of the variations of direction and intensity of the geomagnetic field as recorded by the Miocene lava flows on Steens Mountain, southeastern Oregon, has resulted in a detailed description of total field behavior during a reversal in polarity. In addition to information about the polarity reversal itself, the detailed paleomagnetic record includes several thousand years of geomagnetic history preceding and following the polarity transition at 15.5 Ma. In order to test the feasibility of using this record as a means of correlation in this part of the western United States, comparisons are made of reconnaissance and previously published paleomagnetic records obtained from what has been thought to be the Steens Basalt or rocks of equivalent age. Despite the fact that many of these earlier studies were not done in detail and were not intended for correlation purposes, convincing similarities among some of the records are evident. The Steens Basalt paleomagnetic record does, indeed, have potential as a correlation tool during this time of widespread basaltic volcanism. Additionally, paleomagnetic data from flows that were sampled in detail yield a middle Miocene paleomagnetic pole at 88.3°N, 209.0° (α95 = 6.3°) for the High Lava Plains of Oregon. This pole position is statistically indistinguishable from the earth's rotational axis and implies that no tectonic rotation of this region has occurred since these lava flows were erupted. Data from selected sites within the coeval part of the Columbia River Basalt Group yield a paleomagnetic pole at 88.7°N, 171.6°E (α95 = 4.0°). The Columbia River Basalt Group pole is statistically indistinguishable from either the rotational axis or from the High Lava Plains pole. These findings indicate no post‐20 Ma differential rotation between south‐eastern Washington and south‐central Oregon, in contrast to previous interpretations.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title The Steens Mountain (Oregon) geomagnetic polarity transition: 3. Its regional significance
Series title Journal of Geophysical Research B: Solid Earth
DOI 10.1029/JB092iB08p08057
Volume 92
Issue B8
Year Published 1987
Language English
Publisher AGU
Contributing office(s) Geology, Minerals, Energy, and Geophysics Science Center
Description 20 p.
First page 8057
Last page 8076
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