Paleomagnetism and Environmental Magnetism

Our Mission

The Paleomagnetic Laboratory at the University of Florida currently has four professors and one research scientist. Research activities in recent years have involved almost all the continents and major oceans, and can be subdivided into three primary categories:

  • Tectonic reconstructions

    In the late 1950s, paleomagnetism provided the first quantification of continental drift. The method is still used to define, even more precisely, the relative motion of continents and continental fragments. In addition, the method is now being used more and more to determine the relative motions of individual thrust sheets, and is vital to palinspastic reconstructions of mountain belts. The researchers at this center are now actively applying paleomagnetics to reconstruct the paleogeographies of mountain belts, notably in the Himalayas, China, Alpine-Mediterranean, Africa and Central America.

  • Magnetic stratigraphy

    Magnetic polarity stratigraphy is the preferred means of global stratigraphic correlation. The geomagnetic polarity time scale provides the bridge between fossil zones and radiometric ages. The researchers at this center have been active in this field for years. The book entitled Magnetic Stratigraphy published by Drs. Opdyke and Channell (1996) from this center is an important reference in magnetostratigraphic studies.

  • Environmental magnetism

    Continuous, high-resolution measurements of rock magnetic parameters are being used to characterize the magnetic mineralogy and grain size of recent, a few million years old marine sediments, and to reconstruct depositional paleoenvironments. Researchers at the center also study the relative variations of the geomagnetic field paleointensity, which provide means for high-resolution correlation between sites. Successful studies of this type have been conducted on sediments from the Labrador Sea, the North Atlantic Ocean, the Antarctic Peninsula margin, and the South Atlantic Ocean.