40Ar/39Ar ages and paleomagnetic correlations using characteristic remanent magnetizations (ChRM) show that two main ignimbrite sheets were deposited at 4.86±0.07 Ma (La Joya Ignimbrite: LJI) and at 1.63±0.07 Ma (Arequipa Airport Ignimbrite: AAI) in the Arequipa area, southern Peru. The AAI is a 20-100 m-thick ignimbrite that fills in the Arequipa depression to the west of the city of Arequipa. The AAI is made up of two cooling units: an underlying white unit and an overlying weakly consolidated pink unit. Radiometric data provide the same age for the two units. As both units record exactly the same well-defined paleomagnetic direction (16 sites in the white unit of AAI: Dec=173.7; Inc=31.2; α95=0.7; k=2749; and 10 sites in the pink unit of AAI; Dec=173.6; Inc=30.3; α95=1.2; k=1634), showing no evidence of secular variation, the time gap between emplacement of the two units is unlikely to exceed a few years. The >50 m thick well-consolidated white underlying unit of the Arequipa airport ignimbrite provides a very specific magnetic zonation with low magnetic susceptibilities, high coercivities and unblocking temperatures of NRM above 580°C indicating a Ti-poor titanohematite signature. The Anisotropy of Magnetic Susceptibility (AMS) is strongly enhanced in this layer with anisotropy values up to 1.25. The fabric delineated by AMS was not recognized neither in the field nor in thin sections, because most of the AAI consists in a massive and isotrope deposit with no visible textural fabric. Pumices deformation due to welding is only observed at the base of the thickest sections. AMS within the AAI ignimbrite show a very well defined pattern of apparent imbrications correlated to the paleotopography, with planes of foliation and lineation dipping often at more than 20° toward the expected vent, buried beneath the Nevado Chachani volcanic complex. In contrast with the relatively small extent of the thick AAI, the La Joya ignimbrite covers large areas from the Altipano down the Piedmont. Ti-poor titanomagnetites are the dominant magnetic carriers and AMS values are generally lower than 1.05. Magnetic foliations are sub horizontal and lineations directions are scattered in the LJI. The AMS fabrics are probably controlled by post-depositional compaction and welding of the deposit rather than transport dynamics.
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Acknowledgments Fieldworks in Peru and data acquisition in the paleomagnetic laboratory in Santiago were supported by IRD through a grant to the first author. Discussions in the field with F. Legros were very helpful for the interpretation of the AMS data. We thank G. Wörner, A. Grunder A. Chauvin and O. Roche for their comments on a preliminary version of the manuscript, as well as the Associate Editor R. Cioni and three anonymous referees. SEM observations were made at LMTG.