Nanosized Authigenic Magnetite and Hematite Particles in Mature‐Paleosol Phyllosilicates: New Evidence for a Magnetic Enhancement Mechanism in Loess Sequences of China

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  • Nanosized authigenic magnetite and hematite particles in mature-paleosol phyllosilicates: new evidence for a magnetic enhancement mechanism in loess sequences of China


Magnetic enhancement of Chinese loess‐paleosol sequences has been used extensively as a proxy for East Asian summer monsoon variations. However, the pedogenic magnetic particles contributing to this magnetic enhancement are difficult to extract, so it is not clear how they formed. In this study, we reveal pedogenic magnetite and hematite using electron microscopy, synchrotron radiation X‐ray diffraction, and rock magnetic methods. First‐order reversal curves indicate that superparamagnetic/single domain/vortex state magnetic properties dominated both loess and paleosol samples. Samples of muscovite and chlorite, which are paramagnetic, have weak spontaneous magnetization. The 1‐ to 10‐μm‐sized fraction of host silicatesis responsible for most of the magnetic enhancement of paleosols. In the paleosol fraction, we found weathered phyllosilicates (muscovite/chlorite), including many elongated submicron to a few microns authigenic magnetite and hematite particles between layers; however, few such interlayer particles were found in phyllosilicates of the loess fraction. The concentration of magnetite/hematite particles within paleosol muscovite/chlorite grains and in aggregates of phyllosilicate fragments is much higher than that of the submicron iron oxides found on silicate surfaces. Interlayer magnetite particles are dominantly prism‐shaped with aspect ratios >~4. The authigenic magnetite must be mainly responsible for the spontaneous magnetization of the muscovites and chlorites and the paleosol magnetic properties. The protective silicates account for the low extraction efficiency and also the near absence of surface oxidation of pedogenic magnetite. Based on our results, we suggest that magnetite/hematite in weathered phyllosilicates contribute significantly to the magnetic enhancement of mature paleosols.


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