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Pinpointing the Mechanism of Magnetic Enhancement in Modern Soils Using High‐Resolution Magnetic Field Imaging

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  • Roger R. Fu
  • Barbara A. Maher
  • Junsheng Nie
  • Peng Gao
  • Thomas Berndt
  • Elizabeth Folsom
  • Timothy Cavanaugh
Article numbere2022GC010812
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>31/03/2023
<mark>Journal</mark>Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems
Issue number3
Number of pages16
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date1/03/23
<mark>Original language</mark>English


In well‐buffered modern soils, higher annual rainfall is associated with enhanced soil ferrimagnetic mineral content, especially of ultrafine particles that result in distinctive rock magnetic properties. Hence, paleosol magnetism has been widely used as a paleoprecipitation proxy. Identifying the dominant mechanism(s) of magnetic enhancement in a given sample is critical for reliable inference of paleoprecipitation. Here, we use high‐resolution magnetic field and electron microscopy to identify the grain‐scale setting and formation pathway of magnetic enhancement in two modern soils developed in higher (∼580 mm/y) and lower (∼190 mm/y) precipitation settings from the Qilianshan Range, China. We found that both soils contain 1–30 μm aeolian Fe‐oxide grains with indistinguishable rock magnetic properties, while the higher‐precipitation soil contains an additional population of ultrafine (