Rapid, precise, and high-sensitivity acquisition of paleomagnetic and rock-magnetic data: Development of a low-noise automatic sample changing system for superconducting rock magnetometers



[1] Among Earth sciences, paleomagnetism is particularly linked to the statistics of large sample sets as a matter of historical development and logistical necessity. Because the geomagnetic field varies over timescales relevant to sedimentary deposition and igneous intrusion, while the fidelity of recorded magnetization is modulated by original properties of rock units and by alteration histories, “ideal” paleomagnetic results measure remanent magnetizations of hundreds of samples at dozens of progressive demagnetization levels, accompanied by tests of magnetic composition on representative sister specimens. We present an inexpensive, open source system for automating paleomagnetic and rock magnetic measurements. Using vacuum pick-and-place technology and a quartz-glass sample holder, the system can in 1 h measure remanent magnetizations, as weak as a few pAm2, of ∼30 specimens in two vertical orientations with measurement errors comparable to those of the best manual systems. The system reduces the number of manual manipulations required per specimen approximately eightfold.