The magnetic properties of a rock arise from the magnetic property of its mineralgrains and crystals. Typically, mafic igneous rocks demonstrate a high magneticsuscepbility compared to felsic igneous rocks and other sedimentary rocks.
What causes magnetic susceptibility?
The cause for magnetic suscepbility in a rock begins with a single atom. Atomsconsist of protons, nucleons, and electrons. The protons and nucleons gather to formthe nucleus of the atom in the middle, while electrons spin rapidly about the nucleus.Draw diagram.As the electron spins about the nucleus, its movement behaves like a tinyelectromagnet.Draw diagramAs a result, each atom produces a magnetic moment and can be pictured as a tinydipole.Draw diagram.Atoms can either be diamagnetic (-) or paramagnetic (+).An atom is diamagnetic when its orbital electrons orient to oppose an inducedexternal magnetic field. Their magnetic moments are zero when there is no externalmagnetic field is present. Diamagnetism normally occurs within atoms that hascompletely filled electron shells. Examples of earth materials that are diamagnetic aregraphite, marble, quartz, and salt.An atom is paramagnetic when the magnetic moment of the atom is not zero when theexternal magnetic field is zero. Only atoms with partially filled shells can experience paramagnetism. Elements that project such characteristics are namely iron, cobalt, andnickel. These atoms will react strongly and align themselves in a large region whichwe call a
.However, the story doesn’t end there. There are many rocks made up of iron, cobaltand nickel elements but do not show any signs of magnetic susceptibility, which brings us to our next area of discussion, the alignment of atomic dipoles.As previously discussed, atoms are like tiny dipoles that display magneticsusceptibility. However, the magnetic strength of rock also depends on how its atomsare aligned in its crystal structure. There are 4 different types of dipole alignments,ferromagnetism, antiferromagnetism, spin-canted magnetism, and ferrimagnetism.FerromagnetismDraw diagramFerromagnetism is a phenomenon where the magnetic dipoles align themselvesaccording to the same direction. This unidirectional alignment causes one end to bestrongly positive and the other negative. Ferromagnetic rocks do not exist naturally.AntiferromagnetismDraw diagramMaterials that display antiferromagnetism are also made up of atomic dipoles, but donot display any magnetic susceptibility whatsoever. This is mainly due to the fact thatthe two neighbouring atomic dipoles will align themselves in opposite directions inorder to cancel out the charges, thus, maintaining stability. One common example isthe ore Hematite, which has the chemical formula Fe
.FerrimagnetismIn nature, rocks that naturally display paramagnetic character and most of the timeferrimagnetic. Various examples of ferromagnetic rocks are Magnetite, Pyrrhotite andTitanomagnetite. In the crystal arrangement, atomic dipoles align themselvesaccordingly like the antiferromagnetic structure; magnetic subdomains alignthemselves in opposition, hence, an overall magnetism is produced. Their magneticmoment prevails because one set of subdomain has a stronger magnetic alignmentthan the other. Another reason could be due to the fact that the quantity of a certainsubdomain is larger than the other.