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Quantifying the grain size distribution of the pedogenic magnetic particles in Chinese loess and its significance for pedogenesis.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


  • Qingsong S. Liu
  • Jose Torrent
  • Barbara A. Maher
  • Yongjae Yu
  • Chenglong L. Deng
  • Rixiang X. Zhu
  • Xixi X. Zhao
Journal publication date2005
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Original languageEnglish


Quaternary glacial/interglacial cycles have been imprinted on the Chinese loess/paleosol sequences through pedogenesis. In order to accurately decode the paleoclimatic signals carried by these pedogenic particles it is essential to quantify the pedogenically produced magnetic particles in terms of mineralogy as well as grain size distribution (GSD). To date, the GSD has not been accurately determined because of the dearth of available means for analyzing extremely fine grained (nanometer-scale) pedogenic magnetic particles. Using low-temperature techniques, we systematically investigated the temperature dependency of χ fd (defined as χ1Hz − χ10Hz, where χ1Hz and χ10Hz are AC magnetic susceptibility measured at 1 and 10 Hz, respectively) from two characteristic loess profiles, one located at the western Chinese Loess Plateau and the other in the central plateau. On the basis of Néel theory for a shape anisotropy dominant grain and experimental analysis at low temperatures, a quantitative GSD for pedogenic particles in Chinese loess/paleosols was constructed. We found that the dominant magnetic grain size lies just above the superparamagnetic/single-domain threshold (∼20–25 nm) and that the GSD is almost independent of the degree of pedogenesis. This observation agrees well with other constraints from previous studies. This new GSD model improves our understanding of the pedogenic processes in Chinese loess, enabling further explicit linkage of environmental magnetism to paleoclimate changes.