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Magnetic susceptibility in the European Loess Belt: New and existing models of magnetic enhancement in loess
Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. 2021, V. 569, 110329
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Magnetic susceptibility measurements play a key role in Quaternary studies. Magnetic proxies, such as low field and frequency-dependent magnetic susceptibility, are widely applied in the reconstruction of terrestrial paleoclimate, e.g., in the study of loess-paleosol successions. In general, the interpretation of loess magnetic susceptibility signals is based on two commonly accepted models: the pedogenic magnetic enhancement and wind-vigour models. However, there are an increasing number of cases where such models cannot be used. These cases show unusual relationships between the two common loess magnetic susceptibility proxies: low field and frequency-dependent magnetic susceptibility. Such relationships have been attributed to various phenomena including the dissolution of fine-grain minerals and the formation of ultrafine magnetic rims on the surface of coarser grains by weathering. Despite the growing number of these exceptional cases of magnetic enhancement, our knowledge about the occurrence and potential causes of the unusual behaviour of magnetic susceptibility parameters is still limited. This, in turn, hinders the wider application of magnetic susceptibility parameters in loess. To fill this knowledge gap, magnetic susceptibility data of various profiles from the European Loess Belt were collected and compared to reveal various enhancement trends in loess. Along with the analysis of magnetic susceptibility parameters, combined scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and rock magnetic analyses were applied to samples from the Paks loess sequence in Hungary to describe some of the irregular cases, notably the cause of increasing frequency-dependent susceptibility in non-altered sediments. Analysis of loess, paleosol and common mineral samples separated from loess (e.g., muscovite) revealed that various features may be responsible for these increasing frequency-dependent susceptibility values: i) surface weathering (maghemitization) of coarser detrital grains, ii) nanofragmentation by physical weathering and iii) the appearance of significant amounts of ultrafine magnetic inclusions in micas. These special modes of magnetic enhancement of loess do not undermine the importance of the basic theories suggested above, but rather provide three mechanisms that account for some of the increasing number of unusual cases. To aid in the wider and more accurate use of magnetic susceptibility parameters in loess, we review the current magnetic enhancement models with special emphasis on the identification of unusual trends in magnetic enhancement and understanding their drivers.
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