Magnetic structure of Loihi Seamount, an active hotspot volcano in the Hawaiian Island chain
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The use of geophysical techniques to image the interiors of active volcanoes can provide a better understanding of their structure and plumbing. The need for such information is especially critical for undersea volcanoes, whose environment makes them difficult to investigate. Because undersea volcanoes are made up of highly magnetic basaltic rock, it is possible to use variations in the magnetic field to explore the internal structure of such edifices. This study combines magnetic survey data from 12 research cruises to make a magnetic anomaly map of volcanically active Loihi, located in the Hawaiian Island chain. NRM intensities and susceptibility measurements were measured from recovered rock samples and suggest that magnetic properties of Loihi are widely varied (NRM intensities range from 1-157 A/m and susceptibilities from 1.26 x 10-3 to 3.62 x 10-2 S.I.). The average NRM intensity is 26 A/m. The size and strength of magnetic source bodies were determined by using various modeling techniques. A strongly magnetized shield can explain most of the anomaly with a large nonmagnetic zone inside, beneath the summit. Prominent magnetic highs are located along Loihi's north and south rift zone dikes and modeling solutions suggest strongly magnetized source bodies in these areas as well as a thin, magnetic layer atop the nonmagnetic zone. The strong magnetic anomalies found along the volcano's rift zones cannot be readily attributed to recent lava flows at the surface. Instead, the source bodies must continue several kilometers in depth to give reasonable magnetization values and are interpreted as dike intrusions. Nonmagnetic anomalies at the summit and south of the summit suggest the presence of a magma system. The model solution suggests Loihi is an inhomogeneously magnetized seamount with highly magnetic dike intrusions along the rift zones with a nonmagnetic body at its center overlain with a magnetic layer.
Lamarche, Amy J. (2003). Magnetic structure of Loihi Seamount, an active hotspot volcano in the Hawaiian Island chain. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Texas A&M University. Available electronically from
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