Thermal enhancement of magnetic susceptibility

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D.J. Dunlop


The interpretation of geomagnetic anomalies with deep-seated sources sometimes requires postulating magnetic susceptibilities larger than those measured for common rock types at the Earth's surface. A possible explanation is that rocks buried at depths approaching the Curie point isotherm exhibit enhanced susceptibility due to the Hopkinson effect. In measurements on a sample of single-domain magnetite (0.04 μm particles), the susceptibility increased by a factor 2 between 20 and 500 °C and by a factor 3 at 550 °C. The Hopkinson peak was less pronounced in multidomain magnetites: the relative increase in susceptibility at 550 °C was by a factor 2 in 0.1 μm particles and a factor 1.5 in 0.25 μm particles. Single-domain hematite (0.1–1 μm) gave a spectacular Hopkinson peak, with relative susceptibility enhancement by a factor 5 at 530 °C and a factor 20 at 640 °C. However, rocks containing fine-grained maghemite and magnetite showed an enhancement of 50–70 % at most. The reasons for this variability in the height of the Hopkinson peak are not understood, but the width and shape of the peak are clearly related to the blocking temperature spectrum. Distributed blocking temperatures are associated with a broad peak, while discrete blocking temperatures are accompanied by a sharp susceptibility peak within 50-100 °C of the Curie point. A corollary is that remanent magnetization decreases roughly in inverse proportion to increase in susceptibility, so that the Koenigsberger Qn ratio decreases sharply at high temperature. For this reason, deep-seated anomalies can almost certainly be interpreted in terms of induced magnetization only. Finally, somewhat shallower bodies (temperatures of 200–400 °C) may exhibit thermally enhanced magnetization for two reasons: first, titanomagnetites have widely varying Curie points depending on titanium content, and second, observed anomalies are the result of a geomagnetic field applied over 106 years and viscous magnetization is also known to be enhanced at high temperature.

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Dunlop, D. (1974). Thermal enhancement of magnetic susceptibility. Journal of Geophysics, 40(1), 439-451. Retrieved from


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