The Effect of Magnetotactic Bacteria on the Magnetic Properties of Marine Sediments

  • John F. Stolz
  • Shih-Bin R. Chang
  • Joseph L. Kirschvink


Magnetotactic bacteria have been studied in three distinct sedimentary marine environments: a hypersaline lagoon, an intertidal CO3 marsh, and an open ocean basin. The bacteria and the ultra-fine grained, single domain magnetite (Fe3O4) they produce were extracted from the sediments and studied with transmission electron microscopy. Magnetic properties of the sediments were measured by rock magnetic techniques using a SQUID magnetometer. Our results show that magnetotactic bacteria contribute a significant fraction of the natural remanent magnetization to their sedimentary environment and in some cases may be the sole source of the stable remanence carrying mineral. The occurrence and abundance of these bacteria in a diversity of marine environments implies that they may also play a role in the microbial iron cycle.


Natural Remanent Magnetization Saturation Isothermal Remanent Magnetization Alternate Field Laminate Sediment Biogenic Magnetite 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • John F. Stolz
    • 1
  • Shih-Bin R. Chang
    • 2
  • Joseph L. Kirschvink
    • 2
  1. 1.Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 125-112California Institute of TechnologyPasadenaUSA
  2. 2.Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences, 170-25Institute of TechnologyPasadenaUSA

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