Fundamental Magnetic Constants and Palaeomagnetic Recording Fidelity of Greigite (Fe3S4)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Southampton
Department Name: Sch of Ocean and Earth Science


Greigite (Fe3S4) is a strongly magnetic mineral that is being increasingly recognised in the geological record. It is widely associated with anomalous magnetizations that complicate analysis of Earth's magnetic field behaviour and environmental change in sedimentary sequences. In particular, the Arctic is a frontier region where active international efforts are being made to understand past variations in climate. The presence of greigite in Arctic sediments makes it difficult to determine if palaeomagnetic observations result from unique magnetic field variations at high latitudes or from anomalous field recording associated with strongly magnetically interacting clusters of greigite grains. Despite the increasing recognition of the importance of greigite in the geological record, and in contrast with other important terrestrial magnetic minerals, key fundamental magnetic parameters for greigite remain unknown. This makes it impossible to model micro-scale magnetic characteristics to test whether authigenic growth of greigite in clusters can explain the anomalous magnetizations commonly associated with greigite. Recent work in the PI's research group has enabled identification of 2 of the 3 key parameters required to undertake such modelling. We request funds to determine the remaining key parameter and to undertake modelling that will provide the basis for assessing the palaeomagnetic recording fidelity of greigite. This work will benefit the international palaeomagnetic community who seek to understand high latitude geomagnetic field behaviour and the palaeoclimate community who widely use palaeomagnetic records to construct chronologies of climate change. Greigite growth is also associated with gas hydrate formation. The proposed work could therefore also provide parameters that would enable greigite to be used as a tracer for the former presence of methane hydrates in sedimentary sequences.