Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Date of Award

January 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Sarah Brownlee


The Beaver River Diabase (BRD) is a series of mafic dikes and sills within the Beaver Bay Complex (BBC) of northern Minnesota, which formed during the development of the ~1.1 Ga Midcontinent Rift (MCR). The BRD is one of the youngest and most extensive intrusive phases of the BBC. The BRD dikes and sills were emplaced into the medial levels of the 6-10 kilometer-thick North Shore Volcanic Group and occur over an arcuate area extending 120 by 20 kilometers. The BRD is composed of fine- to medium-grained ophitic olivine gabbro and does not display obvious foliation or lineation features and rarely displays modal layering. Without obvious magmatic internal structures, it is difficult to determine emplacement properties such as flow direction using standard geologic mapping or petrographic techniques. For this reason, we measured the anisotropy of magnetic susceptibility (AMS), in conjunction with other rock magnetic properties, to better understand the BRD's emplacement and deformation history in the context of the MCR.

AMS measures the directional dependence of low-field magnetic susceptibility, and is used to infer a shape-preferred orientation of magnetic minerals within a rock, which can be related to specific emplacement mechanisms (e.g. directional flow or settling). Preliminary analysis of AMS at 20 sites within the southern half of the BRD (with 4-7 samples per site) shows maximum susceptibility values between 4.48 x 10-6 and 2.22 x 10-4 m3/kg (1165 and 65400 μSI). Most specimens display nearly isotropic AMS ellipsoids (Pj < 1.15) with minor degrees of prolateness and oblateness. However, about 20% of specimens have higher anisotropies (Pj between 1.15 and 1.67) and higher degrees of oblateness and prolateness. Variations in AMS properties may reflect differences in concentration and composition of magnetic minerals, as well as emplacement mechanisms. Measurements of susceptibility as a function of temperature yield Curie points between 470 and 570 °C, indicating the presence of low-titanium titanomagnetite. Major hysteresis loops show coercivities between 1 and 25 mT, consistent with titanomagnetite as the dominant remanence carrier.