Bulk magnetic susceptibility measurements on sedimentological samples from all geological periods have been used widely in the last two decades for correlations and as a proxy for sea-level variations. This paper explores the link between magnetic susceptibility, depositional setting and environmental parameters. These environmental parameters include distal–proximal transects, microfacies successions and fourth-order trends on different carbonate platform types (platform, ramp, carbonate mound or atoll) during different Devonian stages (Eifelian, Givetian and Frasnian). Average magnetic susceptibility values over a distal–proximal-trending facies succession vary markedly with depositional setting. On carbonate platforms, average magnetic susceptibility generally increases towards the top of shallowing-upward sequences. On a distal–proximal transect, average magnetic susceptibility is intermediate for the deepest facies, decreases for the reef belts and increases to a maximum in the back-reef zone. In ramps and atolls, magnetic susceptibility trends clearly differ; average magnetic susceptibility generally decreases towards the top of shallowing-upward sequences and is highest in the deepest facies. The strong relationship between magnetic susceptibility, facies and sequences implies a strong environmental influence. However, the different responses in the different platform types suggest that sea-level changes leading to variation in detrital input is not the only parameter controlling average magnetic susceptibility values. Other primary or secondary processes also probably influenced magnetic mineral distribution. Primary processes such as carbonate production and water agitation during deposition are probably key factors. When carbonate production is high, the proportion of magnetic minerals is diluted and the magnetic susceptibility signal decreases. High water agitation during deposition will also selectively remove magnetic minerals and will lead to low average magnetic susceptibility values. These parameters explain the lowest values observed on the reef platform, inner ramp and atoll crown, which are all in areas characterized by higher carbonate production and greater water agitation during deposition. The lowest values observed in the lagoon inside the atoll crown can be related to detrital isolation by the atoll crown. However, other parameters such as biogenic magnetite production or diagenesis can also influence the magnetic signal. Diagenesis can change magnetism by creating or destroying magnetic minerals. However, the influence of diagenesis probably is linked strongly to the primary facies (permeability, amount of clay or organic matter) and probably enhanced the primary signal. The complexity of the signal gives rise to correlation problems between different depositional settings. Thus, while magnetic susceptibility has the potential to be an important correlation tool, the results of this investigation indicate that it cannot be used without consideration of sedimentary processes and depositional environments and without strong biostratigraphical control.