Mapping magnetic sources at the millimeter to micrometer scale in dunite and serpentinite by high-resolution magnetic microscopy
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionLithos. 2018, 323 174-190. 10.1016/j.lithos.2018.09.018
Rock samples can have wide range of magnetic properties depending on composition, amount of ferromagnetic minerals, grain sizes and microstructures. Here, we used scanning magnetic microscopy, a highly sensitive and high-resolution magnetometric technique to map remanent magnetic fields over a planar surface of a rock sample. The technique allows for the investigation of discrete magnetic mineral grains, or magnetic textures and structures with submillimeter scale resolution. Here, we present a case-study of magnetic scans of pristine and serpentinized dunite thin sections from the Reinfjord Ultramafic Complex, in northern Norway. The magnetic mineralogy is characterized by electron microprobe, scanning electron- and optical-microscopy, and with rock magnetic methods. In serpentinized samples the magnetic carrier is end-member magnetite occurring as large discrete grains and small grains in micron scale veins. By contrast, the pristine dunite sample contains large Cr-spinel grains with very fine equant exsolutions ranging in composition from ferrichromite to end-member magnetite. Forward and inverse modeling of the magnetic anomalies is used to determine the remanent magnetization directions and intensities of discrete magnetic sources observed in the scanning magnetic microscopy. The fine-scale magnetization of the rock sample is used to investigate the magnetic carriers and the effect of serpentinization on the magnetic properties of the dunite. Modeling shows that the dipolar magnetic anomalies that are mapped by scanning magnetic microscopy are caused by grains with heterogeneous magnetic sources. The intensity of the magnetization and the amount of magnetic minerals are higher in the serpentinized sample than the pristine dunite sample, consistent with the measured bulk magnetic properties. Furthermore, the serpentinized samples show a larger variability in the direction of the magnetization and a stronger heterogeneity with respect to the pristine sample. The ability to rigorously associate components of the bulk magnetic properties to individual mineral phases creates new possibilities for rock magnetic, paleomagnetic, and exploration applications.