Magnetic properties of olivine basalt: Application to Mars

H. P. Gunnlaugsson*, Ö Helgason, L. Kristjánsson, P. Nørnberg, H. Rasmussen, S. Steinbórsson, G. Weyer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


The natural remanent magnetisation (NRM) of basalt lava containing (oxidised) magnetic phases is usually assumed to be proportional to the weight percent of magnetic phases. It is shown here that olivine basalt has a different behaviour. The NRM intensity increases at an increasing rate with the amount of magnetic phases. This is attributed to the oxidation of olivine during cooling of the basalt that leads to the exsolution of magnetite in a single domain state. In this way, olivine basalt is found to become an order of magnitude more magnetic than basalt that does not contain olivine. A simple explanation for the magnetic anomalies on Mars is offered, based upon these findings and Mössbauer spectroscopy data from Gusev crater on Mars.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)276-289
Number of pages14
JournalPhysics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 16 Mar 2006

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
H.P. Gunnlaugsson acknowledges support from the Danish Natural Science Foundation (2006-01-0030). The late J.M. Knudsen and R.B. Hargraves are acknowledged for fruitful discussions. J. Chevallier at Aarhus University is acknowledged for experimental help.

Other keywords

  • Icelandic basalt
  • Magnetic anomalies
  • Mars
  • Mössbauer spectroscopy
  • NRM
  • Olivine basalt


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