Open Access

Variable shape of magnetic hysteresis loops in the Chinese loess-paleosol sequence

Earth, Planets and Space201450:BF03352081

DOI: 10.1186/BF03352081

Received: 15 May 1997

Accepted: 14 October 1997

Published: 6 June 2014


Shape of magnetic hysteresis loops of the Chinese loess-paleosol sequence is variable with low-field susceptibility and is weakly constricted in samples with intermediate susceptibility (~1.0 × 10−6 m3/kg). The analyses of the hysteresis loops show that both low- (ferrimagnetic) and high-coercivity (antiferromagnetic) components are present and the ferrimagnetic component dominate the magnetic characteristics. The ratio of ferrimagnetic over antiferromagnetic minerals (S ratio) and the superparamagnetic fraction increase with increasing susceptibility. Neither simple two-component mixtures of ferrimagnetic and antiferromagnetic minerals nor of single-domain and superparamagnetic grains fully explain the constricted hysteresis loops. We interpret the variation of the loop shape with susceptibility in the following way. When the ratio of the ferrimagnetic to antiferromagnetic contribution is relatively low (low susceptibility), the broad loop is controlled by lithogenic ferrimagnetic and antiferromagnetic minerals. For samples with intermediate susceptibility values, constricted shape originates from an addition of a broad loop from the lithogenic fraction and a narrow loop from a pedogenic fraction with high superparamagnetic content. Then with further susceptibility increase, the constricted shape almost disappears and the loop is dominated by the pedogenic fraction. The variation of hysteresis loop shape with susceptibility can be a useful indicator of the degree of pedogenesis for loess-paleosol samples.