Open Access

Low-temperature magnetic properties of andesitic rocks from Popocatepetl stratovolcano, Mexico

Earth, Planets and Space200961:BF03352893

Received: 3 October 2007

Accepted: 27 March 2008

Published: 23 January 2009


To contribute to the growing database of magnetic properties of rocks and minerals at cryogenic temperatures, we have measured magnetization, low-field susceptibility, and hysteresis loops as a function of temperature between 2 K (10 K for hysteresis) and 300 K for twelve representative samples from a suite of volcanic rocks of predominantly andesitic composition erupted by the Popocatepetl stratovolcano, Mexico. High temperature susceptibility measurements have yielded Curie points (TC) mostly between 430 and 550°C, two samples additionally containing a magnetic phase with TC of 300-320°C, and one sample—with 140-170°C. Hysteresis measurements at room temperature have revealed invariably the presence of a low-coercivity mineral with coercive force ranging from 10 to 20 mT. This suggests that NRM of Popocatepetl rocks is carried by an intermediate titanomagnetite of composition between approximately TM04 and TM20. Thermal demagnetization of SIRM given at 2 K displays no evidence for the Verwey transition, further showing that samples are essentially magnetite free. At the same time, an inflection between 30-50 K reported previously for intermediate titanomagnetites (Moskowitz et al., EPSL, 157, 141-149, 1998) is seen in all studied Popocatepetl samples except one. As well, below 50 K the coercive force increases sharply with decreasing temperature reaching up to 100 mT at 10 K. On the other hand, examining the behavior of low-field susceptibility at cryogenic temperatures shows that susceptibility signal is dominated by intermediate titanomagnetites only in a part of our samples. In four out of 12 samples, however, susceptibility signal appears to be due to a hemoilmenite phase containing about 20 mole% of hematite. Caution is thus advised when interpreting low-temperature susceptibility data in terms of magnetic mineralogy.

Key words

Titanomagnetite hemoilmenite low-temperature magnetic properties andesites