An OSU Facility supported by the National Science Foundation

Welcome to the Paleo-and-Environmental Magnetism Laboratory in the College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences at Oregon State University. The P-Mag Lab is an NSF supported OSU facility dedicated to sediment magnetism and a resource for Pacific NW, national and international scientific communities.

The U-Channel Magnetometer

The P-Mag Lab is built around the unique capabilities of the liquid helium free 2G Enterprises superconducting rock magnetometer (SRM) optimized for u-channel samples. U-channel samples are rigid u-shaped plastic liners (2 x 2 cm cross-section) that completely enclose cored sediments up to 1.5 m in length. This state-of-the-art system provides the capability to rapidly acquire high quality environmental and paleomagnetic data continuously on u-channel samples. The several orders of magnitude increase in data acquisitions allows new archives to be explored and older ones to be more thoroughly examined. Discrete samples can also be rapidly measured with this system.

Our Research

Our approach is to use the high throughput of the u-channel SRM to:

  1. Reconstruct the space/time patterns of the geomagnetic field.
  2. Develop and employ geomagnetic change as a stratigraphic dating tool.
  3. Reconstruct environmental variability through the rock magnetic response to laboratory magnetizations.

Materials for study come from a wide range of sources, including international science programs such as the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program and the International Continental Drilling Program, PI driven field programs and retrospective research on the large core collection available at the OSU-Marine Geology Repository.

Recent Blog Posts


How to distinguish the roles of transport and source changes in sedimentary records (New paper in G-Cubed!).

Understanding how changes in sediment transport and changes in sediment provenance influence sedimentary and magnetic records is a fundamental, but challenging problem in the study of sediment cores. The OSU P-mag lab has a new paper out in G-cubed led by Rob Hatfield and former undergraduate researcher, Ben Wheeler, that investigates this in the Northern North Atlantic.  Our new study uses a network of 71 core top samples from the Norwegian and Greenland Seas, originally collected in 1963 and currently archived at the OSU Marine and Geology Repository. Sediments were seperated into 5 particle size fractions and the magnetic properties of the bulk sediments and the particle size fractions were measured at the Pacific Northwest Paleomagnetic Laboratory at Western Washington University. The “Edisto Array” used in the newly published Hatfield et al. G-cubed paper.  Cores were recovered in 1963 and archived at the OSU Marine and Geology Repository since that time. There is a long history of studying the magnetic properties of Northern North Atlantic (NNA) sediments as sensitive indicators of changes to Earth Systems.  For example, back in 1995 Joe Stoner and colleagues published a paper in Geology documenting major differences in the magnetic properties of Eirik Ridge sediments (south of Greenland) during the last two glacial terminations.  These differences were interpreted to reflect differences in the timing and style of Greenland deglaciation during these times.  To better understand these changes and investigate how these signals may be influenced by changes in sediment source and/or transport, Rob Hatfield collected potential source sediments from glacial streams around Greenland and Iceland and investigated their particle-size specific magnetic properties (see papers published in 2013...

The P-mag Lab on the Move (Literally)

In December, there was a fire in Burt Hall.  Thankfully, the P-mag Lab survived with very minimal damage, but the building around us needs a lot of work.  So today, Joe, Brendan and our friends Dave and Chris from 2-G Enterprises took apart the magnetometer and moved it to the new Marine and Geology Repository being built at Oregon State.  Everything went well and we are looking forward to being up and running again in a few months.  Check out some pictures of the move below.   The OSU P-mag Lab with our u-channel magnetometer before the fire/move. Taking apart the magnetometer. Joe and Dave discussing how to move the almost 400 lb impulse magnetizer we use to impart Isothermal Remanent Magnetizations (IRMs). Must be someone’s birthday!. I hope its an amplifier! Joe, Dave, and Chris loading the magnetometer into the moving truck. Joe showing off his new mobile P-mag Lab. Taking a break to check out the progress of organizing many kilometers of sediment cores at the new OSU Marine and Geology Repository Val loading cores into the racks. Jason moving the impulse magnetizer into the Marine and Geology Repository. Joe, Dave, and Chris unloading the magnetometer from the truck. Joe making sure the magnetometer is safe. A rare look at the in-line alternating field coils we use to demagnetize our samples. The OSU P-mag Lab Magnetometer’s temporary home. Joe and Dave planning the P-mag Lab’s future. Dave thinking if this room could be the new OSU P-mag Lab...

The P-mag Lab at the 2018 AGU Fall Meeting

The OSU P-mag Lab is headed to Washington D.C. next week for the 2018 AGU Fall Meeting. If you are there, learn about some of the research we are working on, including projects from the Bay of Bengal, Peru, Northern North Atlantic, Western North America, Nares Strait, and the High Arctic.   Tuesday Michael Weber & Brendan Reilly (Oral Presentation) PP23C-03: Bengal Fan depositional history through Pleistocene climate, monsoon, and sea level transitions (Link to QSR Paper) Tuesday, 11 December 2018 14:10 – 14:25 Walter E Washington Convention Center – Salon I   Wednesday Robert Hatfield et al. (Oral Presentation) GP34A-04: Assessing Orbital Forcing in the Tropical Andes: Developing a 700 kyr paleointensity assisted chronology for ICDP drilling in Lake Junín, Peru Wednesday, 12 December 2018 16:45 – 17:00 Marriott Marquis – Independence D   Thursday Benjamin Freiberg et al. (Oral Presentation) GP41A-06: The Particle Size Specific Magnetic Properties of Eirik Ridge Sediments over the Last 150 ka from IODP Expedition 303 U1305 and U1306: Disentangling the Influences of the Greenland Ice Sheet and Deep Western Boundary Current Thursday, 13 December 2018 09:15 – 09:30 Marriott Marquis – Independence D   Joseph Stoner et al. (Poster Presentation) GP43B-0781: Regionally Consistent Western North America Paleomagnetic Directions from 15-35 ka: Assessing Chronology and Uncertainty with Paleosecular Variation (PSV) Stratigraphy (Link to QSR Paper) Thursday, 13 December 2018 13:40 – 18:00 Walter E Washington Convention Center – Hall A-C (Poster Hall)   Anne Jennings et al. (Oral Presentation) PP41B-02: Sediment and Faunal Evidence of Ice Shelves and Their Disintegration during the Early Holocene Deglaciation of Nares Strait Thursday, 13 December 2018 08:15 – 08:30 Walter E Washington...