Paleomagnetism and Magnetic Bacteria

  • Michael WinklhoferEmail author
  • Nikolai Petersen
Part of the Microbiology Monographs book series (MICROMONO, volume 3)


This contribution focuses on bacterial magnetite as a possible archive of paleomagnetic information. Bacterial magnetite can be formed intracellularly or epicellularly (extracellularly), depending on the type of bacterium. Whilst intracellularly synthesized magnetite (magnetosomes) has magnetic properties suitable for retaining paleomagnetic information, the extracellularly precipitated magnetite is mostly superparamagnetic and therefore not a reliable carrier of paleomagnetic information. We discuss the chemical conditions under which fossil magnetosomes can be preserved and what rock magnetic parameters can be used to detect their presence or absence in sediments. In the last section we briefly review the debate on whether or not the magnetite crystals observed in the Martian meteorite ALH84001 represent fossil traces of early life on Mars.


Natural Remanent Magnetization Isothermal Remanent Magnetization Magnetite Particle South Atlantic Ocean Magnetotactic Bacterium 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Earth and Environmental ScienceLudwig-Maximilians-University of MunichMuenchenGermany

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