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An unusually cool weekend in Santa Fe punctuated by drought-breaking rains provided an appropriate backdrop for discussing abrupt changes in climate and in the geomagnetic field, and the resolution with which these changes are recorded in the magnetic properties of rocks and sediments. Modeled after the highly successful meetings in 1992 and 1994, the Third Santa Fe Conference on Rock Magnetism was held June 27–30, 1996, with 44 participants from eight countries. The conference format promoted extensive discussion that led to lively exchanges on the state of rock magnetism today and directions for the future.