Four parameters of low-field magnetic susceptibility (bulk value, frequency dependence, degree of anisotropy, and ellipsoid shape) have been determined for 321 stony meteorites from the National Collection of Canada. These parameters provide a basis for rapid, non-destructive, and accurate meteorite classification as each meteorite class tends to have a distinct range of values. Chondrites show a clear trend of increasing bulk susceptibility from LL to L to H to E within the 3.6 to 5.6 logχ, (in 10-9 m3/kg) range, reflecting increasing Fe-Ni metal and Fe-Ni sulfide content. Achondrite values range in logχ from 2.4 to 4.7 and primitive achondrites from 4.2 to 5.7. Frequency dependence is observed, using 19,000 Hz and 825 Hz, with variations in strength among meteorite classes and individual specimen dependence ranging from 1-25.6%. Degrees of anisotropy range from 1 to 53% with both oblate and prolate ellipsoids present. The aubrite class is marked by high degrees of anisotropy, low bulk magnetic susceptibility, and prolate fabric. Camel Donga is set apart from other eucrites, marked by higher bulk susceptibility, degree of anisotropy, and magnitude of oblate ellipsoid shape. The Shergotty, Nakhla, and Chassigny (SNC) meteorites show subclass distinction using frequency dependence and Chassigny is set apart with a relatively strong oblate fabric. The presence of both strong oblate and prolate fabrics among and within meteorite classes of chondritic and achondritic material points to a complex, multi-mechanism origin for anisotropy, more so than previously thought, and likely dominated by impact processes in the later stages of stony parent body formation.

Meteoritics and Planetary Science
Department of Earth Sciences

Smith, D.L. (Darr L.), Ernst, R.E, Samson, C, & Herd, R. (2006). Stony meteorite characterization by non-destructive measurement of magnetic properties. Meteoritics and Planetary Science, 41(3), 355–373.