People at Fort Hoofddijk

Joris van Galen

J.P. van Galen, BSc
Paleomagnetic Laboratory
Fort Hoofddijk
Department of Earth Sciences 
Utrecht University 
Budapestlaan 17, 3584 CD Utrecht 
The Netherlands 

Phone +31 611381314


Research of Joris van Galen

Full vector geomagnetic field record, geochemical  study on 28 lava flows from El Hierro, Canary Island, Spain 

The volcanic hotspot island group of the Canary Islands has resulted in several projects at Fort Hoofddijk in recent years. Lavas from La Palma, Tenerife, Grand Canaria and - for this project - El Hierro have been sampled and analysed for paleomagnetic properties. During fieldwork at El Hierro we sampled 28 lava flows and created a detailed log of the entire stratigraphy of the section.

The objective of this project is to build a full-vector geomagnetic field record for the period of ~150-450 Ka for the Island of El Hierro. It will not only include the paleodirection of the magnetic north, but a variety of techniques will be used to determine the Paleointensity of the field during the formation of these lava flows. A high resolution paleomagnetic record will be created providing more information on the working of the geodynamo. This will be combined with new dating techniques that will be conducted at the VU in August. This makes it possible to link the intensity data to a measured age one order of magnitude more accurate than is currently possible.

Paleointensity work on lavas is a fast growing research topic, which has the capacity of answering fundamental question on the earth’s magnetic field. Lisa Tauxe formulated these questions very well in her 2006 paper: “What is the average value of the dipole moment? What is its variation in times of stable polarity?

Moreover, as asked by Rob Coe: How low has the intensity fallen without subsequent reversal?”, and “Has there been a general trend of the geomagnetic intensity through geologic time? Answers to these questions require a large collection of reliable paleointensity data that span a significant period of time.” My results can lead to a better understanding of the working of the geodynamo and the relation between field strength and reversals.

Geochemical analysis on the lava flows in combination with the stratigraphic log that has been created on El Hierro can lead to better understanding of the evolution of the volcanic system. High resolution point measurements on individual magnetic carriers within different samples can lead to better understanding of the mineralogical components that play a role in rock magnetism. The possibility of this mineralogical and chemical approach on the samples from El Hierro can lead to new insight in the physical aspect of magnetic carrying.

Working at sampling location


Top: View from the top of the sampling location. Left: Happy field geologist. Right: Working field geologist. All at: Frontera, El Hierro, Canary islands, Spain.

publicationsPublications of Joris van Galen