Environmental magnetism: an introduction
- Cite this article as:
- Dekkers, M. Geologie en Mijnbouw (1997) 76: 163. doi:10.1023/A:1003122305503
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In environmental magnetism, the properties of magnetic minerals are used as proxy parameters for many purposes. Examples are paleoclimate analysis, paleoceanographic studies, provenance studies of sediments, studies of anthropogenically-induced pollution, and archeological investigations. Mineral-magnetic techniques are sensitive, require little sample preparation, are rapid, often grain-size indicative, and usually non-destructive. These techniques involve ‘bulk’ properties which makes them complementary to geochemical micro-analytical techniques. Measurements include the field- and temperature-dependence of various types of induced and remanent magnetizations. Mineral-magnetic methods are continuously being improved. The underlying causal relations between observed mineral-magnetic properties and the processes that led to those properties, are becoming increasingly better understood, and the extended use of such properties as proxy parameters for many processes is foreseen. The following environmental magnetic applications are reviewed: the analysis of paleoclimatic variations in loess and other sediment types, the untangling of sedimentary features in piston cores, and the interpretation of the anthropogenic impact on the environment, in archeological studies and in studies of present-day pollution. The pathway between the provenance area and depositional site is shown to have a crucial impact on the magnetic properties.