The magnetic properties of a rock arise from the magnetic property of its mineral grains and crystals.

Typically, mafic igneous rocks demonstrate a high magnetic suscepbility 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. Atoms consist of protons, nucleons, and electrons. The protons and nucleons gather to form the 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 tiny electromagnet. Draw diagram As a result, each atom produces a magnetic moment and can be pictured as a tiny dipole. Draw diagram. Atoms can either be diamagnetic (-) or paramagnetic (+). An atom is diamagnetic when its orbital electrons orient to oppose an induced external magnetic field. Their magnetic moments are zero when there is no external magnetic field is present. Diamagnetism normally occurs within atoms that has completely filled electron shells. Examples of earth materials that are diamagnetic are graphite, marble, quartz, and salt. An atom is paramagnetic when the magnetic moment of the atom is not zero when the external magnetic field is zero. Only atoms with partially filled shells can experience paramagnetism. Elements that project such characteristics are namely iron, cobalt, and nickel. These atoms will react strongly and align themselves in a large region which we call a domain. However, the story doesn’t end there. There are many rocks made up of iron, cobalt and 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 magnetic susceptibility. However, the magnetic strength of rock also depends on how its atoms are aligned in its crystal structure. There are 4 different types of dipole alignments, ferromagnetism, antiferromagnetism, spin-canted magnetism, and ferrimagnetism. Ferromagnetism Draw diagram Ferromagnetism is a phenomenon where the magnetic dipoles align themselves according to the same direction. This unidirectional alignment causes one end to be strongly positive and the other negative. Ferromagnetic rocks do not exist naturally. Antiferromagnetism Draw diagram Materials that display antiferromagnetism are also made up of atomic dipoles, but do not display any magnetic susceptibility whatsoever. This is mainly due to the fact that the two neighbouring atomic dipoles will align themselves in opposite directions in order to cancel out the charges, thus, maintaining stability. One common example is the ore Hematite, which has the chemical formula Fe2O3. Ferrimagnetism In nature, rocks that naturally display paramagnetic character and most of the time ferrimagnetic. Various examples of ferromagnetic rocks are Magnetite, Pyrrhotite and Titanomagnetite. In the crystal arrangement, atomic dipoles align themselves accordingly like the antiferromagnetic structure; magnetic subdomains align themselves in opposition, hence, an overall magnetism is produced. Their magnetic moment prevails because one set of subdomain has a stronger magnetic alignment than the other. Another reason could be due to the fact that the quantity of a certain subdomain is larger than the other.

Another thing to note about magnetic materials is that its temperature is accountable for its magnetic susceptibility. As temperature increases, thermal motion competes with the ferromagnetic tendency to align. When temperature rises above is Curie Temperature, there is a second-order phase transition where the system can no longer maintain its alignment. The Curie Temperature is the critical point where a certain material looses its magnetic properties once its temperature exceeds a certain limit. What are the different types of material that can have a dipole effect? Scientific studies show that materials that can be most easily magnetized are Iron, Nickel, Cobalt, and Manganese. The cause of their magnetism is attributed to their internal properties that they possess d-valence electrons. A valence electron is the electron in the last shell or energy level of an atom. Where these materials are typically found As we know, the earth is made up of several layers. Most fundamentally, it can be divided into three layers, the core (inner and outer), the mantle, and the crust. We also know that the inner core of the earth is made up of Solid iron, while the outer core, liquid, molten iron. The mantle, Magnesium, Iron, and Aluminium. During the formation of the earth 4.6 billion years ago, meteorites from space accreted to form what we call planet earth today. Much of this primitive energy in still present in our earth’s system, and is the fundamental energy source that circulates the molten iron in our outer core to make the earth a giant magnet. Thanks to this property, the earth’s giant magnetism is what we call gravity, which makes things stick to the ground instead of fly out into space. Draw diagram Sedimentary rocks and Igneous rocks – their mode of occurrence Sedimentary rocks is defined as rocks formed on the earth’s surface by the precipitation of minerals from water solutions, by the growth of skeletal material in organisms, or by the cementation of shell fragments or loose grains derived from a pre-existing rock. Examples of sedimentary rocks would be halite, gypsum, limestone, mudstone, shale, and sandstones. Igneous rocks are rocks that formed from the cooling of magma due to a volcanic eruption. The type of magma produced depends on the type of volcanic eruption that has occurred. For example, spreading ridges in the ocean would typically produce mafic igneous rocks, while the subduction of a volcanic arc would normally produce felsic igneous rocks. Draw diagram Causes of higher magnetic susceptibility in igneous rocks The higher magnetic susceptibility in igneous rocks is due to the type of material it is made of. Igneous rocks, primarily mafic igneous rocks, are made from materials that are produced directly from the earth’s mantle or core, which contains many elements that can be easily magnetized (Iron, Nickel, Cobalt, and Manganese). Sedimentary rocks on the other hand, comprise of elements from the surface of the earth that display dimagnetism (such as Halides from Sodium Chlorite, Graphite from Carbon, Limestone from Calcium Carbonate and Sandstone from quartz). Therefore, it would only be natural for rocks to display properties that are similar to the properties of their building material! Non magnetic mineral grains would make up a non magnetic rock, while highly magnetic mineral grains would make up a magnetic rock!

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