Unraveling the Magnetic Signal of Individual Grains in a Hawaiian Lava Using Micromagnetic Tomography

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Micromagnetic Tomography (MMT) is a new technique that allows the determination of magnetic moments of individual grains in volcanic rocks. Current MMT studies either showed that it is possible to obtain magnetic moments of relatively small numbers of grains in ideal sample material or provided important theoretical advances in MMT inversion theory and/or its statistical framework. Here, we present a large-scale application of MMT on a sample from the 1907-flow from Hawaii's Kilauea volcano producing magnetic moments of 1,646 grains. We produced 261,305 magnetic moments in total for these 1,646 grains, an increase of three orders of magnitude compared to earlier studies to assess the robustness of the MMT results, and a major step toward the number of grains that is necessary for paleomagnetic applications of MMT. Furthermore, we show that the recently proposed signal strength ratio is a powerful tool to scrutinize and select MMT results. Despite this progress, still only relatively large iron-oxide grains with diameters >1.5–2 μm can be reliably resolved, impeding a reliable paleomagnetic interpretation. To determine the magnetic moments of smaller (<1 μm) grains that may exhibit pseudo-single domain behavior and are therefore better paleomagnetic recorders, the resolution of the microcomputed tomography and magnetic scans necessary for MMT must be improved. Therefore, it is necessary to reduce the sample size in future MMT studies. Nevertheless, our study is an important step toward making MMT a useful paleomagnetic and rock-magnetic technique.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2022GC010462
Number of pages16
JournalGeochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023


  • MicroCT analysis
  • Micromagnetic Tomography
  • Quantum Diamond Microscope
  • magnetic mineralogy
  • micromagnetic inversions
  • rock-magnetism


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