The Significance of Magnetic Fabric in Layered Mafic-Ultramafic Intrusions

  • Brian O’Driscoll
  • Brian O’Driscoll
  • Eric C. Ferré
  • Carl T. E. Stevenson
  • Craig Magee
Part of the Springer Geology book series (SPRINGERGEOL)


Anisotropy of magnetic susceptibility (AMS) has been recognised as a well-established fabric analysis tool for intrusive igneous rocks since the 1990s. The AMS technique provides directional information for magnetic foliation and magnetic lineation fabric components of the AMS ellipsoid, potentially coupled with a quantification of the overall fabric strength and geometry. The magnetic susceptibility (and therefore the AMS) of igneous rocks is often dominated by ferromagnetic mineral phases such as magnetite or low-Ti titanomagnetite, even where present in very minor amounts (e.g., ~ 0.1 vol.%). Fe-bearing silicates exhibit subordinate paramagnetic behaviour but are volumetrically much more important constituents of igneous rocks than Fe-Ti oxides, so may also contribute considerably to the AMS.

A significant application of AMS is in the characterisation, constraint and quantification of very weak or subtle mineral fabrics related to flow or tectonic deformation. In particular, studies of magnetic fabrics in sheet intrusions and in granite plutons have enormously enhanced our understanding of the magma flow regimes and emplacement kinematics in these settings. Studies of AMS in layered mafic-ultramafic intrusions have been comparatively sparse. This is despite the fact that magnetic fabrics from layered cumulates may provide information on a range of magma chamber processes, from initial magma emplacement to cumulate textural evolution and solidification, if accompanied by careful petrographic documentation and an understanding of the ‘magnetic mineralogy’ of the rock. A wide array of rock magnetic and complementary quantitative fabric analysis techniques can be employed to support an AMS dataset in this regard. With studies of layered mafic-ultramafic intrusions currently proceeding at unprecedented (micro-)scales of textural and geochemical detail, AMS offers petrologists a unique approach to investigating the microstructure of cumulates and the textural complexity they exhibit.


Anisotropy of Magnetic Susceptibility Cumulate textures Mineral lamination Magnetic mineralogy Magma chamber processes 



BO’D acknowledges numerous discussions with John Reavy, Mike Petronis, Henry Emeleus, Colin Donaldson, Mike Cheadle, Dougal Jerram and Michael Higgins on the origin of mineral alignments in cumulate rocks. The authors are grateful to editors Bernard Charlier, Rais Latypov, Olivier Namur and Christian Tegner for their time spent organising this book and for soliciting this review. Bernard Charlier provided excellent editorial support. Olivier Bolle and Bernard Henry provided thoughtful reviews that improved an early manuscript version.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brian O’Driscoll
    • 1
  • Brian O’Driscoll
    • 2
  • Eric C. Ferré
    • 3
  • Carl T. E. Stevenson
    • 4
  • Craig Magee
    • 5
  1. 1.School of Physical and Geographical SciencesKeele UniversityKeeleUK
  2. 2.Now at School of Earth, Atmospheric and Environmental SciencesThe University of ManchesterWilliamson Building, M13 9PL Oxford RoadUK
  3. 3.Department of GeologySouthern Illinois University at CarbondaleCarbondaleUSA
  4. 4.School of Geography, Earth and Environmental SciencesUniversity of BirminghamBirminghamUK
  5. 5.Department of Earth Science and EngineeringImperial CollegeLondonUK

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