The Magnetic and Color Reflectance Properties of Hematite: From Earth to Mars

Zhaoxia Jiang*, Qingsong Liu*, Andrew P. Roberts, Mark J. Dekkers, Vidal Barrón, José Torrent, Sanzhong Li

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)


Hematite is a canted antiferromagnet with reddish color that occurs widely on Earth and Mars. Identification and quantification of hematite is conveniently achieved through its magnetic and color properties. Hematite characteristics and content are indispensable ingredients in studies of the iron cycle, paleoenvironmental evolution, paleogeographic reconstructions, and comparative planetology (e.g., Mars). However, the existing magnetic and color reflectance property framework for hematite is based largely on stoichiometric hematite and tends to neglect the effects of cation substitution, which occurs widely in natural hematite and influences the physical properties of hematite. Thus, magnetic parameters for stoichiometric hematite are insufficient for complete analysis of many natural hematite occurrences and can lead to ambiguous geological interpretations. Remagnetization, which occurs pervasively in red beds, is another ticklish problem involving hematite. Understanding red bed remagnetization requires investigation of hematite's formation and remanence recording mechanisms. We elaborate on the influence of cation substitution on the magnetic and color spectral properties of hematite, and on identifying hematite and quantifying its content in soils and sediments. Studies of remagnetization mechanisms are discussed, and we summarize methods to discriminate between primary and secondary remanences carried by hematite in natural samples to aid primary remanence extraction in partially remagnetized red beds. Although there remain unknown properties and unresolved issues that require future work, recognition of the properties of cation-substituted hematite and remagnetization mechanisms for hematite will aid identification and interpretation of the magnetic signals that it carries, which is environmentally important and responsible for magnetic signals on Earth and Mars.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2020RG000698
JournalReviews of Geophysics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022


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