• Magnetic fabrics and anisotropy;
  • Magnetic mineralogy and petrology;
  • Rock and mineral magnetism;
  • Mid-ocean ridge processes


Mid-ocean ridge basalt (MORB) specimens have often been found to have high ratios of saturation remanence to saturation magnetization (Mrs/Ms). This has been attributed either to dominant cubic anisotropy or to insufficient saturating field leading to overestimation of Mrs/Ms of a dominantly uniaxial single domain (USD) assemblage. To resolve this debate, we develop an independent technique to detect USD assemblages. The experimental protocol involves subjecting the specimen to bidirectional impulse fields at each step. The experiment is similar to the conventional isothermal remanent magnetization (IRM) acquisition experiment but the field is applied twice, in antiparallel directions. We define a new parameter, IRAT, as the ratio of the remanences at each field step and show it to have characteristic behaviour for the two assemblages; IRAT ∼1 at all field steps for USD and <1 with a strong field dependence for multi-axial single domain (MSD) grains. We verified the theoretical predictions experimentally with representative USD and MSD specimens. Experiments with MORBs gave low IRATs for specimens having high Mrs/Ms. This argues for a dominant MSD assemblage in the MORBs, possibly cubic in nature. Although undersaturation of the samples can indeed be a contributing factor to the exceptionally high Mrs/Ms, this study shows that the nature of the assemblage cannot be dominantly USD.