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Low temperature magnetic characterisation of fire ash residues

Peters, C; Thompson, R; Harrison, A; Church, MJ


C Peters

R Thompson

A Harrison


Fire ash is ideally suited to mineral magnetic studies. Both modern (generated by controlled burning experiments) and archaeological ash deposits have been studied, with the aim of identifying and quantifying fuel types used in prehistory. Low temperature magnetic measurements were carried out on the ash samples using an MPMS2 SQUID magnetometer. The low temperature thermo-remanence cooling curves of the modern ash display differences between fuel sources. Wood and well-humified peat ash display an increase in remanence with cooling probably related to a high superparamagnetic component, consistent with room temperature frequency dependent susceptibilities of over 7%. In comparison fibrous-upper peat and peat turf display an unusual decrease in remanence, possibly due to an isotropic point of grains larger than superparamagnetic in size. The differences have been successfully utilised in unmixing calculations to quantify fuel components within four archaeological deposits from the Northern and Western Isles of Scotland.


Peters, C., Thompson, R., Harrison, A., & Church, M. (2002). Low temperature magnetic characterisation of fire ash residues. Physics and Chemistry of the Earth, Parts A/B/C, 27(31), 1355-1361.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jan 1, 2002
Deposit Date Dec 2, 2008
Journal Physics and Chemistry of the Earth
Print ISSN 1474-7065
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 27
Issue 31
Pages 1355-1361
Keywords Archaeology, Fire ash, Mineral magnetism, Low temperature.