Cristian Clothier

Dr. Arlo Weil

Department of Geology

Structural Processes in the Sierra Pampeanas and Precordillera of Argentina Studied Through Paleomagnetic Means


When the minerals of a rock are coming together to form the body of a rock, either through sedimentary or igneous processes, they become aligned with the Earth’s magnetic field at that moment. By looking at the declination (angle from North) and inclination (angle from horizontal) of the magnetic orientation of samples taken in 2014 from the Sierra Pampeanas and Precordillera of Argentina, we hope to piece together the history of the rocks and the Andes in general, more specifically how they have been affected by geologic deformational processes within the region. Focusing this research on recent geologic activity will help us better determine what surface geologic processes are being caused by the interactions at the plate boundary. This information will ultimately be used to explain modern-day geologic occurrences such as mudslides and volcanic eruptions, as well as possibly mitigate future disasters.

We also use the paleomagnetic records to add to our understanding of changes of the geomagnetic field within the geologic past, as well as the numerous polarity reversals that have occurred over the Earth’s lifetime.

This research will be done using a Magnetometer, which measures the overall orientation of the minerals within the sample, and a Thermal Specimen Demagnetizer, used to eliminate the effects of magnetic reorientations that have occurred since the sample’s formation.