Distortion of the geomagnetic field in volcanic terrains: an experimental study of the Mount Etna stratovolcano
The inclination ( I), declination ( D) and total intensity ( F) of the geomagnetic field were measured on Mount Etna in 1989-1991 at a dozen sites previously sampled for archeomagnetic studies. The purpose of the work was to determine the variations of these parameters at 30 cm above ground level, and how the distortion from the main field can affect the archeomagnetic record of volcanic rocks. Ten measurements were usually performed at each site with a three-component flux-gate magnetometer, whose estimated precision is ±0.2° on direction and ±50 nT on intensity. This was considered sufficient on volcanic areas with highly magnetized rocks and where the geomagnetic gradient may be in excess of 1000 nT/m. Results averaged for each site generally show small variations in intensity (±3% of the total field) and direction (±1.5°). The averaged values of the 12 sites ( I=52.6°, D=0.3°, F=44010 nT) are very close to those measured in sedimentary terrain away from the volcano ( I=52.9°, D=0.35°, F=44110 nT), themselves consistent with the interpolated IGRF in eastern Sicily. The largest deviations of the geomagnetic direction have been observed on four sites, three of them located on the South flank between 1900 and 700 m elevation. It is suggested that these anomalies are mainly related to dyke swarms which are common within the South Rift Zone of Mount Etna. Our findings show that reliable archeomagnetic results can be obtained from volcanic rocks, provided that lavas of the same eruption are sampled on several sites distributed over the largest possible area.