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No. 49: Jan-Feb 1987

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Reversed Magnetization In Rocks

A fundamental assumption of paleomagnetism is that the natural remanent magnetism (NRM) of rocks is acquired parallel to the applied magnetic field. There are unsettling exceptions:

"Andesitic pumice, which was hurled several hundred kilometres during the disasterous 1985 eruption of the Nevado del Ruiz volcano (Columbia), carries a stable but reversed NRM with southerly declination and negative inclination. Heating experiments show that this magnetization is due to a self-reversal mechanism which also induces a reversed thermoremanent magnetization (TRM) in the laboratory field."

(Heller, Friedrich, et al; "Reversed Magnetization in Pyroclastics from the 1985 Eruption of Nevado del Ruiz, Columbia," Nature, 324:241, 1986.)

Comment. Much of the evidence for continental drift, especially the paths taken by the continents, is based upon paleomagnetism.

From Science Frontiers #49, JAN-FEB 1987. 1987-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987