Paleomagnetism Laboratory

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Welcome to the Paleomagnetism Laboratory

The Alex. L. du Toit Paleomagnetism Laboratory is part of the Rock and Paleomagnetism Instrument Development “RAPID” Consortium . It is dedicated to igneous and sedimentary rock magnetism and is the sole paleomag lab located on the African Continent.

Paleomagnetism is a unique field that relies on both the stability and instability of the Earth’s magnetic field to reconstruct plate tectonic history. Paleomagnetic studies are used to trace the “paths of drift of continents” through time. Magnetism gets recorded in rocks when they form – like many tiny compass needles pointing north being “frozen” into the rock. Measurement of the magnetic directions in rocks enables us to determine the orientation and latitude of the rock mass at the time of its formation. It allows the reconstruction of the components of ancient continents, now fragmented by plate tectonics. Paleomagnetic data can also date rock successions indirectly.


Contact us


Dr Herve Wabo:

Head of Department:

Prof Michiel De Kock


C1 Lab 332A

Department of Geology

APK Campus,

University of Johannesburg

PO Box 524, Auckland Park 2006


The UJ Pmag Lab is fully shielded and equipped with all the standard instruments necessary for paleomagnetic investigation:

SQUID MagnetometerOur primary magnetometer is a 2G Enterprises vertically-oriented Super-Conducting Quantum Interference Device “SQUID” magnetometer with automated sample changer. This system allows for the rapid acquisition of paleomagnetic data with high precision and sensitivity. ​Instruments Squid MagnetometerHerve Wabo In The Pmag Lab
Spinner MagnetometerThe Pmag Lab also carries an AGICO JR-6A Dual Speed “Spinner” Magnetometer suitable for measuring rocks with higher magnetic intensities, such as lavas and dykes. This device can then also be used to acquire paleomagnetic data in complement of the SQUID (but with a lower precision).​Instruments Molspin Limited Shielded Demagnetizer, Spinner Magnetometer
Alternating Field DemagnetizationAF demagnetization can be conducted using our Molspin Limited Shielded Demagnetizer or on the SQUID, which has AF demagnetization capability. ​
Thermal DemagnetizationThermal demagnetization is conducted using our ASC Scientific TD-48 SC shielded oven.​

Our Research

The main drivers of the research coming out of the Pmag Lab are diverse (see publications) and the studies are geographically far reaching, from our home base of the Archean-Proterozoic Kaapvaal craton (~3.6 – 1.8 Ga) and the Paleozoic-Mesozoic Main Karoo Basin (Carboniferous – 183 Ma) in southern Africa, to India and Antarctica.

Recent publications:

  • Wabo, H., Humbert, F., de Kock, M.O., Belyanin, G., Maré, L.P., Beukes N.J., Kramers, J., (2019). Constraining the chronology of the Mashishing dykes from the eastern Kaapvaal craton in South Africa. In: Srivastava R., Ernst R., Peng P. (eds) Dyke Swarms of the World: A Modern Perspective. Springer Geology, p215-261.
  • Wabo, H., Maré, L.P., Beukes, N.J., Kruger, S.J., Humbert, F., de Kock., M.O. (2018). Mineral transformations during thermal demagnetization of sideritic jasper mesobands in jaspilites of the ~3.25 Ga Fig Tree Group in the Barberton Greenstone Belt, Kaapvaal craton (South Africa). South African Journal of Geology 121, 131-140.
  • Humbert, F., Sonnette, L., de Kock, M.O., Robion, P., Horng, C.S, Cousture, A., Wabo, H. (2017). Paleomagnetism of the early Paleoproterozoic, volcanic Hekpoort Formation (Transvaal Supergroup) of the Kaapvaal craton, South Africa. Geophysical Journal International 209, 842–865.
  • Sciscio, L., de Kock, M., Bordy, E. and Knoll, F., 2017. Magnetostratigraphy across the Triassic-Jurassic boundary in the main Karoo Basin. Gondwana Research, 51, pp.177-192.

Magnetism databases & useful links

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