Papers on Geomagnetism and Paleomagnetism Marine Geology and Geophysics
Wasp-waisted hysteresis loops: Mineral magnetic characteristics and discrimination of components in mixed magnetic systems
Article first published online: 20 SEP 2012
Copyright 1995 by the American Geophysical Union.
Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth (1978–2012)
Volume 100, Issue B9, pages 17909–17924, 10 September 1995
How to Cite
1995), Wasp-waisted hysteresis loops: Mineral magnetic characteristics and discrimination of components in mixed magnetic systems, J. Geophys. Res., 100(B9), 17909–17924, doi:10.1029/95JB00672., , and (
- Issue published online: 20 SEP 2012
- Article first published online: 20 SEP 2012
- Manuscript Accepted: 23 FEB 1995
- Manuscript Received: 2 AUG 1994
Rock magnetic studies of complex systems that contain mixtures of magnetic minerals or mixed grain size distributions have demonstrated the need for a better method of distinguishing between different magnetic components in geological materials. Hysteresis loops that are constricted in the middle section, but are wider above and below the middle section, are commonly observed in mixed magnetic assemblages. Such “wasp-waisted” hysteresis loops have been widely documented, particularly with respect to rare earth permanent magnets, basaltic lava flows, remagnetized Paleozoic carbonate rocks, and an increasingly wide range of other rocks. Our modelling, combined with a review of previous work, indicates that there are several conditions that give rise to, as well as magnetic properties that are characteristic of, wasp-waisted hysteresis loops. First, at least two magnetic components with strongly contrasting coercivities must coexist. This condition can arise from either mixtures of grain sizes of a single magnetic mineral, or a combination of magnetic minerals with contrasting cocrcivities, or a combination of these two situations. Second, materials that give rise to wasp-waisted hysteresis loops will have relatively high ratios of the coercivity of remanence to coercive force (Bcr/Bc) because B0 is controlled by the soft (low coercivity) component, whereas Bcr is controlled by the hard (high coercivity) component. Third, values of Bcr/Bc ≥ 10 usually only occur for strongly wasp-waisted loops when the low coercivity component comprises an overwhelmingly large fraction of the total volume of magnetic grains. Fourth, a given mixture of superparamagnetic and single-domain (SD) grains is more likely to give rise to wasp-waisted hysteresis loops than an equivalent mixture of SD and multidomain grains. Fifth, our results provide empirical confirmation that the total magnetization of a material is the sum of the weighted contributions of each component, in the absence of significant magnetic interaction between particles. Thus to contribute significantly to wasp-waisted behavior, a mineral magnetic component must give rise to a significant portion of the total magnetization of the rock. As a result, minerals with weak magnetic moments such as hematite need to occur in large concentrations to cause wasp-waistedness in materials that also contain ferrimagnetic minerals. We outline a method for determining the magnetic components that can give rise to wasp-waisted hysteresis loops. This method is based on high- and low-temperature magnetic measurements that are used to identify the dominant remanence-bearing mineral/s and on mineral magnetic techniques that are used to discriminate between different magnetic domain states. The method is illustrated with several examples from archaeological, geological, and synthetic materials.