In DepthEarth Science

Diamond microscope unlocks ancient rocks' magnetic secrets

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Science  24 Apr 2020:
Vol. 368, Issue 6489, pp. 354-355
DOI: 10.1126/science.368.6489.354

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Summary

A new tool, called the quantum diamond microscope (QDM), is enabling geologists to sense and map the magnetic fields imprinted in rock grains at scales smaller than the width of a human hair, allowing geologists to tease out history that coarser techniques overlook. Developed at Harvard University, the microscope is being used to probe meteorites for clues about the Solar System's earliest days, chronicle rainfall thousands of years ago from stalactites, and detect some of the earliest motions of Earth's tectonic plates in ancient lavas. Though it does not yet have the sensitivity of traditional superconducting sensors, the maps produced by the QDM will likely become mandatory for analyzing any claims of ancient magnetism, such as the start of Earth's own magnetic field.

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