Magnetism of Quaternary sediments was the topic of a well-attended symposium held during the 13th INQUA (International Union of Quaternary Research) congress in Beijing, China, August 2–9. More than 40 papers were delivered by scientists from Belgium, England, France, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, the United States, the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, and other countries. The host country contributed to a productive session that was part of the first large scientific meeting to take place in Beijing after the June 4, 1989, upheaval.
Nearly half of the studies focused on paleomagnetic and rock magnetic properties of loess in Alaska, Central Asia, China, and New Zealand. Magnetostratigraphic polarity dating was done at some sections in the western (Shaw et al.) and central Chinese loess plateau (Bai and Hus; Wang and Evans; Yue). The interpretation of the polarity pattern found in the western loess plateau still is not unambiguous. In the central part, certain polarity boundaries, such as the Brunhes/Matuyama (B/M) boundary, are found in slightly different stratigraphic positions (Hus et al.; Yue). In deep-sea sediments the lock-in depth of natural remanent magnetization (NRM) at the B/M boundary seems to be a linear function of sedimentation rate (de Menocal et al.). Although the magnetization process in the Chinese loess is not well understood, detailed records of polarity transitions have been reported for the B/M and the Jaramillo R→N transition (Ma et al.; Rolph).