Rock magnetism of remagnetized carbonate rocks: Another look

Michael J Jackson, Nicholas L. Swanson-Hysell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


Authigenic formation of fine-grained magnetite is responsible for widespread chemical remagnetization of many carbonate rocks. Authigenic magnetite grains, dominantly in the superparamagnetic and stable single-domain size range, also give rise to distinctive rock-magnetic properties, now commonly used as a 'fingerprint' of remagnetization. We re-examine the basis of this association in terms of magnetic mineralogy and particle-size distribution in remagnetized carbonates having these characteristic rock-magnetic properties, including 'wasp-waisted' hysteresis loops, high ratios of anhysteretic remanence to saturation remanence and frequency-dependent susceptibility. New measurements on samples from the Helderberg Group allow us to quantify the proportions of superparamagnetic, stable single-domain and larger grains, and to evaluate the mineralogical composition of the remanence carriers. The dominant magnetic phase is magnetite-like, with sufficient impurity to completely suppress the Verwey transition. Particle sizes are extremely fine: approximately 75% of the total magnetite content is superparamagnetic at room temperature and almost all of the rest is stable single-domain. Although it has been proposed that the single-domain magnetite in these remagnetized carbonates lacks shape anisotropy (and is therefore controlled by cubic magnetocrystalline anisotropy), we have found strong experimental evidence that cubic anisotropy is not an important underlying factor in the rock-magnetic signature of chemical remagnetization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)229-251
Number of pages23
JournalGeological Society Special Publication
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2012


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