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Keywords:

  • micrometeorites;
  • magnetism

[1] Most micrometeorites are strongly magnetic: the signal of a single micrometeorite may exceed the signal of a weakly magnetized standard sediment sample. Micrometeorites contain abundant magnetite, mostly produced by high-temperature oxidation during atmospheric entry. In this study, we carried out measurements on 520 micrometeorites (505 melted cosmic spherules, 6 partially melted scoriaceous micrometeorites, and 9 unmelted micrometeorites). The natural remanent magnetization and the saturation isothermal remanent magnetization have been measured, followed by alternating field or thermal stepwise demagnetization. The natural remanent magnetization is in the range of 0.4–300 A/m for cosmic spherules; it is a stable thermal remanent magnetization acquired by quenching in the Earth's magnetic field. The range is 3.8–16 A/m for scoriaceous micrometeorites and 78–525 A/m for unmelted micrometeorites, which may have preserved a preatmospheric magnetization. The magnetic susceptibility is in the range of 0.005–2.9 SI for cosmic spherules and is in the range of 0.06–0.12 SI for scoriaceous and unmelted micrometeorites. Temperature-dependent susceptibility analyses and thermal demagnetization indicate that magnetite is cation substituted in cosmic spherules. Different populations of magnetite grains may have different degrees of cation substitution within a single micrometeorite. Anisotropy of magnetic susceptibility measurements indicates that micrometeorites are strongly anisotropic (anisotropy degree >15%) and that most have oblate fabrics consistent with the parallel habit of magnetite in barred olivine cosmic spherules.