Summary Paleomagnetic data are of variable quality. To assist in a systematic assessment of data, a set of seven quality criteria (VQ1 – VQ7) were introduced by Van der Voo (1990). The last of those criteria ‘VQ7’ concerns the possibility of remagnetization when a particular paleomagnetic pole resembles a younger paleopole from the same stable region. While remagnetizations are often the culprit, the mere resemblance of an older pole to a younger pole does not a priori require that the rocks under investigation are remagnetized. Given that the Earth has a finite surface area; that apparent polar wander paths are represented as wide swathes rather than points, and that continental motion has taken place over several billion years, we ask the question ‘How likely is it for an apparent polar wander path to loop back on itself?’ To answer this question, we constructed synthetic apparent polar wander paths (APWPs) in an effort to evaluate the likelihood of self-intersection. We find that given 500 Myr of apparent polar wander, ∼60 per cent of the synthetic APWPs show self-intersection. Given 1000 Myr of apparent polar wander, ∼95 per cent of the synthetic APWPs show self-intersection. These results show that resemblance to younger paleopoles, over the long term, may be governed by simple probability rather than only remagnetization. We recognize that remagnetization does occur, sometimes pervasively, and must be reckoned with in the assessment of paleomagnetic data. Perhaps VQ7 should be amended to the first sentence in the original discussion (Van der Voo, 1990), and focus on satisfying ‘No suspicion of remagnetization’ via other means rather than solely a resemblance to younger poles. Paleomagnetism, Numerical modelling, Apparent polar wander paths, Intersections, Remagnetization © The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society. This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices)
Geophysical Journal International – Oxford University Press
Published: May 28, 2018
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