Climate change through magnetic minerals?
#GS3#science and Technology#
- Clues to climate change in the past are found in fossils, micro-organisms, gases trapped in ice and isotopes, but the laboratory techniques are cumbersome, costly, and time-consuming. Indian scientists have now unraveled a technique using magnetic minerals that is rapid and efficient.
- A technique that is faster and more accurate than existing methods. Magnetic mineralogy is sensitive to changes in ambient chemical and physical processes that result in concentration, grain size, and mineralogy changes.
- Indian monsoon and its variability have been studied through different continental (tree rings, paleosols, speleothems, fluviolacustrine sediments, peat deposits, microfossils, magnetic minerals, etc.) and oceanic (foraminifers, isotopes, isotope ratios, the organic content of sediments, etc.) proxies. The IIG Scientists used changes in properties of magnetic minerals for their research in India’s Paleomonsoonal pattern, which is a comparatively new technique applied in our country.
- The study of these changes unravels physicochemical regime operative in the past, helping to gauge the then prevalent climate pattern. The magnetic minerals are sensitive to the physical and chemical environment that they are embedded in. These external changes bring about modifications in the innate structure of these magnetic minerals, transitioning them from one magnetic phase to another. In this process, the magnetic mineralogy also changes, for example, from magnetite to hematite and vice versa. There are also some intermediate phases that draw the attention of the researchers to complex climatic conditions prevalent over a period of time strictly from these magnetic phases.