Magnetic stratigraphy of the Villafranchian type-section:(Villafranca d'Asti, Italy)

Main Article Content

P. Boano
D. Bormioli
F. Carraro
R. Lanza


A detailed magnetostratigraphic investigation has been carried out along the section of the Fornace RDB quarry (Villafranca d'Asti, NW Italy), which is the type-section of the Villafranchian and has provided many of the land mammal remains used by Azzaroli (1977) to define the Val Triversa faunal unit (zone MN16a). Poorly consolidated clay and clayey silt are the prevailing lithologies and samples were collected with plastic boxes. Isothermal remanent magnetization measurements showed that haematite is the main ferromagnetic mineral and occurs through the section, whereas iron sulphide is subordinate and only occurs in the lower part. Alternating field demagnetization usually succeeded in isolating a stable component and was used to derive the characteristic remanence by demagnetizing the specimens at 4 to 7 steps in the range 15 to 80 mT. The magnetic fabric was investigated by measuring the anisotropy of the magnetic susceptibility. It was always well defined and characterized by a horizontal foliation matching the bedding plane. The anisotropy of isothermal remanent magnetization was measured on some specimens and yielded fully comparable results. This consistency shows that detrital haematite carries the primary magnetization in these sediments and explains the 20° inclination shallowing of the site mean palaeomagnetic direction. Only one reverse to normal polarity transition has been detected and a direct correlation with the GPTS reference scale of Cande and Kent (1992, 1995) is thus not possible. The age of the Triversa fauna has been much debated in recent literature. Some authors have recently suggested that it is transitional between Ruscinian and Villafranchian, i.e. a little older than previously assumed. According to this hypothesis, the lower part of the RDB section would correlate to the chron C2Ar (upper Gilbert) and the upper part to the chron C2An.3n (lower Gauss), whereas according to the traditional interpretation correlation is to one of the polarity inversions within the middle Gauss (Kaena and Mammoth). An independent age constraint based on magnetostratigraphy will only be possible when other Ruscinian and Villafranchian sections are investigated in the same detail and a correlation between palaeosecular variation is established.

Article Details

How to Cite
Boano, P., Bormioli, D., Carraro, F. and Lanza, R. (1999) “Magnetic stratigraphy of the Villafranchian type-section:(Villafranca d’Asti, Italy)”, Annals of Geophysics, 42(1). doi: 10.4401/ag-3695.