Attraction in the Dark: The magnetism of speleothems

Joshua M. Feinberg, Kathryn K Hobart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

No matter how quiet and pristine a cave setting may appear, all speleothems contain assemblages of magnetic minerals. These iron oxide minerals are derived largely from overlying soils, though minor fractions may come from the residuum of dissolved bedrock, reworked sediment carried by episodic floods, geomicrobiological activity, and even windblown dust. Regardless of their origin, these minerals become aligned with Earth's ambient magnetic field before they are fixed within a speleothem's growing carbonate matrix. Here, we describe how the magnetism of stalagmites and flowstone can be used to chronicle high-resolution geomagnetic behavior and environmental change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)113-118
Number of pages6
JournalElements
Volume17
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was funded by National Science Foundation grant EAR-2044535 and US–Israel Binational Science Foundation grant #2016402. The authors are grateful to Roger Fu, Brendan Reilly, and Jonathan Blundy for comments that improved the quality of this manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Mineralogical Society of America. All rights reserved.

Keywords

  • Environmental magnetism
  • Paleomagnetism
  • Speleothem magnetism

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